Monday, January 6, 2014

CCXXII - Proverbs 12-14

For quite a few chapters we will be looking at proverbs that are “aphorisms”, which are concise statements of truth, generally short and easy to understand.  I will select various proverbs on which I will offer comment.  There are scholars who have attempted to group these aphorisms thematically, but I think that only adds difficulty to studying this book of Proverbs.  I think one should read each of the proverbs and reflect on them individually as to how they might pertain to one’s life circumstances.

Chapter 12

Verse 1 speaks to people of all ages.  We should never reject the opportunity to learn.  It always makes us better people.  By contrast, stupid (NIV) people hate being corrected.  Ignorance begets ignorance, making this a vicious trap.
Verse 9 is interesting.  To paraphrase, it says that it is better to be a “nobody” and enjoy the successes of life than to pretend to be something you are not, and actually have nothing.  This coincides with other proverbs that give laud to the wise person who withholds his comments while the fool spends his words bragging about empty accomplishments, trying to look important.  The wise man should always yield to this fool, knowing that he will expose himself before he shuts up.
Study on verse 10.  It addresses one’s treatment of animals being an indicator of true character.  There has been research that shows that many hardened adult criminals share a trait that dates back to their childhood.  That trait is cruelty to helpless domesticated animals.  It only makes sense that if a child will exercise such disrespect for animals, he will grow up to exercise disrespect for human beings.  {If you ever observe your child or grandchild disrespecting animals, please stop what you are doing and address this.  One way is to show the child how to treat the animal with kindness and council the child on just how precious each of God’s creatures are.  It would have frightened me if I observed either of my children doing this.}
Verse 16 tells us to ignore insults.  This is wise because most insults are not meant to be insults anyway.  Another person’s words are merely misinterpreted, exaggerated to the negative.
Verse 22 repeats that God hates a lying tongue, and verse 24 speaks again on laziness.
Verse 26 is a good verse to remember and teach your children.  “Choose your friends carefully”.  I’ve spoken before on the influence of one’s chosen friends.  It can be devastatingly destructive.

Chapter 13

The very first verse is supported by the Ten Commandments.  Honor your father’s (or mother’s) instruction.  This is particularly important to the learning process because a father gives only that instruction that is good for the son.  You can always trust the teachings of your father to be pure in spirit.
As it says in verse 5, as the righteous grow older, they come to hate evil and its origins because the wise know the consequences.  {I don’t like to harbor hate in my thoughts, but I find it difficult to watch what has happened in recent years and not reflect and discuss.  I hope the trend of this society turns back to the other direction in my lifetime.}
Verse 7 – We should never “pretend” to be something we are not, even to be poor.  However, this verse is saying that pretending to be poor is better than pretending to be rich.
Verse 20 repeats the thought of choosing your friends wisely.
Verse 22 is not speaking about putting money aside for future generations, but rather it is saying that the wealth of a wise man lasts for several generations, while the fool’s wealth will end up in the wise man’s coffers.
You’ve heard variances of verse 24, the most often used of which is “spare the rod and spoil the child”.  I could take up an entire lengthy post on this one proverb, but I won’t.  But I will say this:  It takes a higher level of love to force oneself to discipline his/her children.  In other words, do you love that child enough to make yourself suffer through the administration of discipline?  It is part of the job, like it or not.

Chapter 14

This chapter opens with the speaking of the wise woman and how she builds her house (home).  I’ve got to give Peggy credit.  She always did things to build up the strength of her family and lift up the individual members, constantly reminding them of how important and precious they are.  She always made them understand their potential, and encouraged them to follow their dreams.  We have been so fortunate to have her in our lives.
Verse 7 (not to be redundant) repeats the admonition to stay away from people of bad influence.  Young parents need to know when to start counseling their children on this.
Verse 9 is another indictment against the foolish person.  When he is advised to make amends for his actions, he simply makes fun of the very mention of it.  This is a sure tell.
Another sure tell is in verse 15.  A foolish person will believe anything.  He often gets “suckered” out of his money because he listens to fast-talking people.  Also related to this, I always liked the phrase “If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything”.  Very few foolish people stand for anything that is Godly or wholesome.
Verses 17 and 29 speaks against the “quick-tempered”.  Quick-tempered people make a lot of mistakes, sometimes hurting other people as well as themselves.  These people often claim they were “born that way”.  Don’t you believe it!  A quick temper can be diminished down to an even-temperament with just a small amount of effort.
I like verse 23.  It always reminds me of certain people who waste hours and days talking about what needs to be done and how to do it, when all they need to do is stop talking, roll up their sleeves, and get started.
Verse 30 reminds us that envy will rot and burn our insides.
I’ll end this post with verse 34.  I love this great nation I was blessed to be placed in.  But I am concerned for it and my descendants.  We need to turn back to God and the Judeo-Christian principles that made us a great nation.  Perhaps all generations before me have said the same thing, but I truly believe there is a problem.

Nest post – Proverbs Chapter 15

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