Thursday, 11 September 2014

(255) September 12: Proverbs 22-23 & 2 Corinthians 4

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 22v1-16: It is better to be esteemed as upright than be rich. Rich and poor are made equal in the fact that God made both. The prudent (sensible) rather than the fool, take refuge when danger comes. To fear God means being humble, no doubt as it is to accept his plan and will not our own. Such fear is repaid with riches, honour and flourishing life. Moreover, there are all sorts of potential pitfalls in the path of the wicked, such as the trouble wickedness can bring. Those who would preserve their life stay far from these pitfalls, and by consequence from wickedness. If you teach children the right way from the start, they will remain on it as adults. The wealthy rule, and often because the poor are reliant on them. Calamity will come on rulers who act unjustly, and their power to punish (and so rule) will be broken. But those who generously share with the poor will be blessed, no doubt in the joy of giving and the provision of God. If you drive the mocker away, strife, quarrels and insults will disappear with him. Rulers will befriend the pure of heart and speech. God watches over knowledge, and because he also hinders the words of the unfaithful, this probably means that he ensures truth and wisdom prosper. The sluggard is so lazy he will do nothing even when danger lurks. The speech of the adulterous woman can trap you, and falling into that trap demonstrates you are under God’s anger, no doubt in being handed over to your desires. A child is by default foolish in their heart, and it is discipline that will drive it away. Those who seek wealth by oppressing the poor or wooing the rich will come to poverty, no doubt because of the sin involved and its comeback.
            “The sayings of the wise” follow. These have been gleaned from elsewhere and, perhaps, adapted to some extent by Solomon so they are also what he teaches. They have a particular intent of enabling his son to be wise in what he says to those he serves. This is presumably the sense of Solomon wanting them to be in the hearer’s heart and on his lips. They are to shape both what he wants to say, and the things he actually does say (22v17-21). The nature of the “sayings” suggests Solomon may be wanting to equip his son to act as an adviser, or perhaps just give reasons why he is not acting as others might at court. Both have relevance for the Christian in helping others or explaining their own lifestyle to those who might mock it or pressurize them to act otherwise.
            Some lessons from the sayings of the wise in Proverbs 22v17-23v35: Do not exploit the poor and needy in court because you look down on them in their state. If you do, God will judge for them, taking life for life. Don’t befriend those with a temper as you may act as they do and be ensnared by the consequences. Do not commit yourself financially if you have no means to pay, as you will loose everything. Do not deceptively take to yourself what has been assigned to another, like a portion of the land. It is those who are skilled who will get on to a point of serving the greatest rulers. But don’t crave the food and drink of such rulers, as it is deceptive, presumably because it looks good, but leads people into drunkenness, sin, and even coveting such wealth. Indeed, don’t wear yourself out by exercising all your cleverness to get rich like these rulers, as wealth can disappear in a moment. And if your host is stingy, don’t crave what he has, as he lacks generosity and is reluctant, and so shouldn’t be complimented in that way. Don’t talk with fools as they will mock your words. Don’t steal people’s property and especially that of the fatherless, as God will defend them against you. Seek to listen to and accept wisdom. If you punish a child they won’t die, and if you don’t, they may. The wise-hearted and truth-speaking son, gives inner joy to his father, as does (mentioned later) the righteous son. Don’t envy sinners, but wholeheartedly seek to fear God. It is in this that one’s hope is secure, presumably one’s future in this life and the next. Do not get drunk or be a glutton as this leads to inattentiveness to life, and so into poverty. Be ready to pay (make sacrifices) to gain wisdom, and don’t sell it – perhaps hinting that one might discard wisdom in order to gain wealth or enjoy pleasure. Instead, Solomon calls his son to delight in his ways which is to give him his heart. This is a challenge as to how the parent should exemplify the wisdom they pass on so they can actually urge their children to rejoice in their righteousness as their parent, and so want to emulate it. Here that is particularly with respect to marital fidelity. The chapter ends with a discourse against drunkenness. Drink causes grief and strife, bringing the drinker to complain at its detrimental impact. In this sense, although it looks enticing and is easy to drink, it bites. Moreover, it confuses the drinker so that they are susceptible to all sorts of trouble, it makes them feel physically terrible, and it leads to addiction, so all they want is another drink in order to cope.

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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