Friday, December 13, 2013

CCXVIII – Proverbs Chapters 1-3

The last post was a short introduction to the book of Proverbs, plus a look at the first seven verses, which not only introduced the entire book, but gave an uncompromising tribute to wisdom itself.  The first few chapters maintain a continuity of themes which we will look at in this post.  This is what makes the earlier parts of this book a bit easier to study.

Remaining in the first chapter, verses 8-19 gives us a warning about greedy, violent men.  {You will notice the phrase, “my son”.  This denotes the sense of a student being taught by a mentor.  It can also be interpreted literally as a son receiving instruction by his earthly father.  Whichever of these scenarios you might prefer, (I prefer the latter) it should be carried throughout the entire book.}  These verses describe evil men as violent and disregarding innocent people.  They lay in wait so they can attack the innocent and even kill them to steal from them.  The writer is not only telling his son not to live his life that way, but also to stay far away from these men and their influence.  This is the lesson of this section:  Do not associate with these people, as their influence is stronger than you might think.  And your resistance might be weaker than you think.  {The biggest concern that parents of teenagers have (or should have) is who their children associate with.}

Verses 20-33 depicts wisdom as a prophetess, loudly proclaiming her words of wisdom throughout the places where people gather.  She speaks against those who spurn morals and ethics, persisting in their ignorance.  She appeals to all to accept her words, making them readily available to anyone who will listen.  But then she prophesies that it will be too late for those refusing her words, as their foolish actions will lead them to destruction, and it will be too late for wisdom to save them from their earlier foolish actions.

Chapter 2

This chapter is dedicated to the moral benefits of wisdom.  In the first verse we are instructed not only to listen to words of wisdom, but also concentrate on them and learn them, making them a part of our very being.  This chapter speaks of wisdom being more precious than silver or gold and should be sought after.  It says in verse 11 that, “discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you”.  (Verse 12) “Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men…..”  Then verse 16 begins a stern warning for all adult men:  We need to call on wisdom to discern and recognize a seductive and adulterous woman.  We must do whatever it takes to resist her charm and her seductive words.  She has already forsaken the man she made vows to, leaving a path of destruction.  {The patriarch Joseph gave us a good example of how to deal with an aggressively seductive woman:  He ran.}

Chapter 3

I want to spend a few minutes on this chapter.  It has four parts to it with four different subjects.  The first part is the first 12 verses.  So much is in these verses.  In short they deal with the benefits of a strong belief and relationship with God:  "Keep my commands in your heart”; “you will win favor and a good name”; “lean not on your own understanding, but submit to the will of God”; “be not wise in your own eyes”.  Then in verse 9 we are instructed to honor our obligation to tithe.  And it includes a promise with that:  “Your barns will be filled to overflowing”.  {I do not dwell on this for fear of sending the wrong message.  Warning:  A tithe and/or and offering is not to be considered an investment which will yield financial gain.}  The second part of this chapter is in verses 13-18.  This part contrasts material wealth with spiritual wealth, being in large part the form of wisdom.  In verse 16 is mentioned long life.  It says “long life is in her right hand and in her left hand are riches and honor”.  {That is making quite a profound promise, but it says what it means and it means what it says.}  The third part is only two verses (19 and 20), which seems to be a short hymn of praise to wisdom.  And finally the fourth part covering the remaining fifteen verses.  This part pleads with the son to seek wisdom, trying to convince him of its value.  There are many verses in this section that are helpful.  It says not to let wisdom out of your sight.  It will keep you safe.  It will give you peace so you can sleep well.  You will not walk in fear.  It also gives some instruction in verses 27-30 concerning neighbors.  Look at verse 28 where it says to give of yourself TODAY, rather than telling your neighbor to “come back tomorrow”.  {Be careful how you treat your neighbors and your co-workers.  You need to be especially careful to treat these people as you want to be treated yourself.  You can chose your friends, but you cannot chose your neighbors or your co-workers, therefore you must go the extra mile to co-exist in peace.}  The remaining verses contrast the wise versus the foolish.  The very last verse in this chapter says, “The wise inherit honor, the fools get only shame”.

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