Friday, 12 September 2014

(256) September 13: Proverbs 24-25 & 2 Corinthians 5

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 24: Do not want to be among the wicked as they plan violence and trouble. It is through wisdom that a house is built (or project completed) and filled with treasures. The wise succeed both through gaining power and seeking advice. Fools should remain silent when wisdom is sought. Those who plot evil and mock others become known as schemers and are detested. If you give up when things get hard, you are small of strength. Rescue those being wrongly led away to death, or perhaps those who through foolishness and sin are bringing it on themselves; you may say you knew nothing about it, but God weighs our motives, and will repay everyone according to what they do (or don’t do). Enjoy honey, but know that wisdom is sweet too, and so to be desired: It gives hope, no doubt for a flourishing life and for life everlasting. Don’t seek to steal from the righteous. Here there is acknowledgement that the righteous may “fall” into trouble numerous times (“seven” suggests this). The point is that they will always recover, ultimately rising to life; but the wicked will not when their calamity strikes, no doubt because it will result from judgement. The righteous, however, are those who don’t gloat when their enemy falls. Indeed, if they do, in disapproval God will stop displaying his anger to their enemy. Do not worry or envy the wicked, as they have no real hope. Likewise, do not join officials who rebel against God or the king (rulers), as God and the state will destroy (or punish) such people. Those who show partiality in courts will be cursed by all peoples, but those who show justice will receive blessing. Like a kiss, honest speech is an act of love. Sort out work that will bring an income, before focusing on building your home. Don’t testify in court against your neighbour unless justified; and don’t desire to pay them back if they’ve done something bad to you. Observing the unkempt results of laziness teaches us that without diligent hard work poverty will come suddenly and destructively like a robber.
            Lessons from Proverbs 25. We return now to Solomon’s proverbs, and read they were compiled under Hezekiah, two hundred years later - around 700BC: God’s excellence is seen in often concealing things, as he knows what we need to know, and much we will never fathom. However, the excellence of kings is seen in seeking to understand things, and especially the cases brought before them. Nevertheless, the disposition or attitude of their heart can no more be fathomed that the extremity of the heavens and sea. If the wicked are removed from government (or any organisation) it can be shaped upon righteousness and so be precious. Don’t claim a place amongst the great or famous with a king or ruler, as you may be humbled by not being given that place. Better for them to exalt you if they so choose. Don’t be hasty in reporting what you’ve heard in court as you will be shamed if your neighbour shows you were wrong. Also, don’t betray someone else’s confidence in charging your neighbour with wrongdoing, as you will then be disgraced for being unfaithful. The rulings or rebukes of a wise judge are precious, pleasing and beautiful. A trustworthy messenger refreshes his master with the reliability of his message, as the master knows he can rely on it. Those who boast of giving gifts they don’t give bring disappointment like clouds without rain in a dry land like Israel. With patience one can persuade a ruler, and gentle speech can wield much power to defeat others. So you can achieve much with righteousness. Just as eating too much of a good thing can make someone sick, don’t visit your neighbour so often for them to end up hating you because you annoy them. To give false testimony against a neighbour is like physically attacking them. Relying on unfaithful people is like trying to use a broken limb: They will give way and never achieve what you hope of them. To be joyful around those who are low is like taking their coat on a cold day making them shiver, or pouring vinegar into a wound, making it sting: It makes a bad situation worse. If your enemy is in need, help him as this will bring him to a wholehearted repentance and God will reward you. Just as unexpected rain is unwelcome, so is sly or mischievous speech, bringing horror or anger from those who hear it. Good news from another land refreshes one’s soul, especially when one is faced with bad news at home. Righteous people (especially rulers in context) who allow the wicked to dominate are like a polluted well: You think they will bring what is good and beneficial, but in reality their actions taste bad and are even poisonous. Just as too much honey can give you indigestion and make you feel unwell, so it is not honourable to seek out things too deep to understand: This is no doubt because that is detrimental, perhaps causing you to struggle in faith. Those who lack self-control are like a breached city in the sense that all manner of temptation and sin can flood into their life to their destruction.

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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