Sunday, 7 September 2014

(251) September 8: Proverbs 14-15 & 1 Corinthians 16

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 chapter 14: Foolishness is seen in tearing down the good or secure things we have. Those who are devious despise God. What we say can bring punishment or protect us against it. We provide for ourselves by investing, whether in oxen or technology today. If you are a mocker rather than someone of discernment, you will never gain wisdom. Stay away from foolish people as they lack knowledge. Cautious (prudent) people show wisdom in thinking through what they do, but the foolish believe anything people say, and show stupidity in deceiving others, no doubt because it will bring them harm in the end. The upright person is distinguished from the fool in being ready to make amends for their sin. Our own bitterness or joys is really only understood and shared in by us, as no-one else properly understand us. The house, or security, of the wicked will be destroyed, whereas that of the righteous will flourish. Sin can sometimes seem right, although it leads to death. Joy may often be tempered with grief. Whether faithless or good, we will be repaid accordingly, both with the results in this life and the next. Fools are hot-headed rather than fearing God, and quick-tempered people do foolish things, whilst crafty people are hated. Cautious (prudent) people gain knowledge, whilst the simply just gain foolishness. Ultimately evil people will serve the good. Whether someone is accepted or befriended often depends on whether they are wealthy. It is a sin to despise someone, but being kind to the needy brings blessing. Those plotting evil end up misguided, but those who plan what is good find people loving and being faithful to them. Talk rather than work brings poverty rather than profit. The wealth that is a consequence of being wise is like a crown marking the wise person’s achievement. The fool just receives folly. A truthful witness saves lives. Fearing the Lord brings security to oneself and one’s children, no doubt in God’s protection but also because things are less likely to be lost because they were gained dishonestly or because of gaining enemies. Such fear also brings life. A king’s glory is seen in how many he rules. Patience leads to understanding, perhaps because the patient person studies and thinks. Peacefulness benefits our health, whilst envy is detrimental. Oppressing the poor shows contempt for God as he made them and they are therefore precious to him. So being kind to the needy honours him. Even in death, the righteous have security in God whilst the wicked are brought down. Wisdom resided in the heart of discerning people. A nation’s greatness is seen in its righteousness. Rulers (or employers) delight in wise servants (or employees), whilst shameful one’s incur their wrath.
            Some lessons from chapter 15: Gentle speech can quell anger whilst harsh speech can provoke it. The wise commend knowledge. God watches over everyone. Our speech can bring healing or crush people with deceit. Fools ignore their parents’ discipline. The income of the wicked brings trouble, no doubt as it was received dishonestly. God hates the worship of the wicked, but is pleased by that of the upright. Likewise, he hates the way of the wicked and loves those seeking to be righteous. If you wander from what’s right you will receive stern discipline and if you ignore that, death. God sees the hearts of men. Mockers resent correction and won’t seek to learn from the wise. Happiness affects the countenance and heartache crushes us. The oppressed are always wretched, but the cheerful always have feast in the sense of knowing joy. Better not to have wealth yet fear God, than much with turmoil. Better also, to be poor and loved than wealthy and hated. A hot temper leads to arguments, but patience ends them. Life is easier for the upright, but not those who are lazy. A wise son makes his father joyful. A foolish man despises his mother, probably because he has ignore what she’s said. Those without judgement find delight in being foolish. Success comes when we seek advice. Joy is found in giving a good reply, which can only come from wisdom. The Lord acts to destroy the house of the proud but protects the boundaries of those in need like the widow. These refer to him acting justly according to his covenant with Israel (Deut 28-30), but reflect his wider justice in exalting the humble and humbling the exalted. God hates even the thoughts of the wicked, but is pleased with those of the pure. A greedy man brings trouble to his family in taking bribes and so binding himself to others. This is another statement about how dishonesty brings trouble not just to oneself, but one’s family. The righteous way what they say before answering, but the wicked just gush out evil. God is far from the wicked in terms of acting for them, but hears the prayers of the righteous. A cheerful look can bring joy to others and good news aid health. Those who listen to rebukes on matters of life and death are wise, Those who ignore discipline despise themselves because this is to their detriment. But those who heed correction gain understanding and so wisdom. Fear of the LORD teaches wisdom because it makes the upright so that they will do all the above, seeking knowledge, heeding correction, weighting their answers etc. In this sense humility is a prerequisite to honour, as it moves us to act in an upright and wise way.
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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