Tuesday, 9 September 2014

(253) September 10: Proverbs 18-19 & 2 Corinthians 2

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 18: Unfriendly people go after selfish things for themselves, so friendship is seen in selflessness. Fools don’t want to understand, but just air their own opinions. The wicked are held in contempt. Words can drown people or give them life. It is bad to be biased towards the wicked. The speech of fools brings him strife, and snares his soul before God, no doubt because he sins by it. Gossip is digested by those who hear it, which is why it is detrimental. Those who lazily leave work unfinished and those who destroy have the same descent, probably because these traits derive from the same negligence etc. The righteous find safety in God. The rich however rely on their wealth, wrongly assuming it is impenetrable. Humility comes before honour, no doubt because it leads to fearing God and therefore uprightness. It is stupid and shameful to speak before listening. It is the condition of the spirit that sustains people in their suffering, and none can bear it if theirs is crushed. The wise desire and seek out knowledge. Giving gifts can give opportunities to gain a hearing from others, even the great. The first person to make an argument seems right until someone else challenges him and so another perspective is heard. So hearing alternative views is sensible. Casting lots can help settle disputes. Such disputes can be impenetrable, especially those with a family member. How we speak affects our success and so wealth, and even has the power over life and death in what it might lead to. Those who love talking will therefore eat its fruit, ie. experience any detrimental consequences to their speech. To be married is good and to receive favour from God. The poor seek mercy from the rich, but the rich answer harshly, no doubt as they don’t know what it is to be in need and are used to doing as they see fit. More important than having many companions is to have one friend who is closer and more of a support than a sibling. 
            Some lessons from Proverbs 19: It is better to be poor and blameless, than not poor yet perverse. Zeal without knowledge is bad, not least because you can act too hastily and miss doing what’s right. The fool ruins his own life, yet rages against God for the trouble he brings on himself. Sadly wealth brings friends, whilst both friends and relatives desert the poor, even if they plead for their relatives to stand by them. A false witness will be punished. Many seek to gain the favour of rulers (or the famous), and everyone is the friend of those who give gifts. These proverbs warn against superficial friendship. To get wisdom is to love one’s own soul as it benefits and the wise person prospers. It is unfitting for a fool to live in luxury, no doubt because this is unjust as they don’t deserve it. The following point about it being worse for slaves to rule princes probably has the similar sense of it being wrong for the undeserving or unqualified to have a high position in life. The wise are patient, and this is their glory - the display of their excellence as human beings. A king’s rage is terrifying like a roar, but his favour life-giving. A foolish son can ruin his father, no doubt in bringing his name into disrepute or requiring his father to bail him out of difficulty. A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping and so annoyance. Although wealth can come by inheritance, it can also come from a prudent (cautious) wife, who is a gift from God. Laziness leads to sleep and ultimately to hunger in not earning one’s keep. To obey instructions guards one’s life. To be kind to the poor is to lend to God, and so will be rewarded by him. The idea of lending suggests that God chooses in some sense to rely on us as a means by which he provides for the poor. There is hope for reformation of children if we discipline them. Indeed, not to is actually to contribute to their death, whether through immoral living or at the final judgement! Allow those who are angry or violent to pay the penalty for their actions. If you keep them from that, you will have to again as they won’t learn. Listen to and accept advice and you will be wise. Whatever our plans, nothing will hinder what God has chosen to do. A man desires loyal-love from others. Here it being better to be poor than a liar may stress that it is better to be poor and faithful. Fear of God leads to life, ultimately, but also to contentment, being untouched by trouble. This may refer not to the absence of trouble, but not letting it get to you in the knowledge that God is in control and everlasting life awaits. Those who are lazy have no energy for anything, even for eating properly. Punish the mocker or fool and they will learn prudence (caution). But just rebuke a discerning man and he will gain knowledge because he will listen. The sense is that the fool needs more forceful correction, and that is why the penalties of a criminal justice system are necessary. To rob or drive out one’s parents is shameful. You need not just to hear wisdom once, but constantly listen to instruction to remain wise and not stray. Corrupt witnesses mock justice. The wicked don’t just taste a little evil, but gulp down much.

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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