Proverbs 25

Verses 7b-8:

What you have seen with your eyes

8 do not bring hastily to court,
for what will you do in the end
if your neighbor puts you to shame?

I think the implication here is that we shouldn’t be quick to jump to conclusions. We need to carefully investigate the matter and the circumstances that surround it before going off and “tattling” about it to everyone.

This seems to be a good lesson in self-control and the wisdom of patience.

Proverbs 24

Verses 17-18, 29:

Do not gloat when your enemy falls;
when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice,

or the LORD will see and disapprove
and turn his wrath away from him.

Do not say, “I’ll do to him as he has done to me;
I’ll pay that man back for what he did.”

This was a great verse to read the other night. Living life the past few weeks, I’ve had encounters with people I wouldn’t necessarily call my enemies, but they certainly weren’t my friends. It was easy to cry for justice over the harsh or careless words they spoke and want to carry justice out on my own. But these three verses are a powerful reminder that it’s not up to us to do that. In fact, vs. 19 leaves an odd twist that it says the LORD will turn his wrath away from him (the object of your wrath).  I’m not entirely sure how to interpret that, but it seems to indicate that the LORD will no longer take the vengeance we seek if we gloat over the circumstances of our enemies. Perhaps it implies that God’s wrath would be directed towards us?

Regardless, the command is pretty clear. We are not to rejoice in the failings of our enemies, and we are certainly not to repay evil with evil.

Mute Wife

I have a mute wife for the next week. Charlene got back from the doctor’s office today, and he has ordered her not to speak until next Monday. So needless to say, this will be an interesting twist in our first year of marriage. We’ve already begun working out our own sign language, which I’ll call WSL (Wong Sign Language). Frankly, it’s a hilarious mix of finger spelling, and wild gestures 🙂 For some of her most hilarious signs, you’ll have to ask her in person.

On the positive side, I’m pretty sure that Charlene and I will have an unfair advantage at any future game of Charades or Guesstures.

Proverbs 22

Verse 6:

Train a child in the way he should go,
and when he is old he will not turn from it.

I was listening to the radio the other day. I don’t remember what station it was; it was either K-LOVE, or Air1. But the DJ was commenting something to the effect of

Isn’t it great that we have this wondeful promise in Proverbs that if we do our job as parents to train up our kids that they won’t stray from it when they’re older?

He couldn’t be more wrong, I thought to myself. I wrote about this last month when I last read Proverbs 22. Back then I wrote:

First, it’s a general principle, not a biblical promise. That is to say that great parents can have horrible kids, and horrible parents can have great kids. I’ve seen it both ways, in both my friends and my friend’s kids. But the general principle is that the child needs to be trained properly, and thus be on a “trajectory” from which he will not turn.

And I still believe that. I’ve experientially tested this Proverb and it is by no means a hard and fast rule or promise. But parents shouldn’t lose heart. They should still follow the principle, and then follow Proverbs 3:5 by trusting in God with all their heart.

Proverbs 21

Verse 9:

Better to live on a corner of the roof
than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.

Charlene and I were in SLO last weekend, and we had the opportunity to hear Pastor Steve preach on Wisdom and Marriage (17.6MB MP3). This is one of the passages he cited from Proverbs regarding marriage. It was specifically directed towards the singles in the group, when he encouraged them to make wise decisions in the choice of their mate. He told them they’d better choose wisely, or get used to living on the corner of their roof.

Verse 17:

He who loves pleasure will become poor;
whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich.

I’m baffled by the reference to “oil” here. I can see the part about loving pleasure or wine and their resultant consequences, but I fail to see the connection with oil. Is this in reference to cooking oil?  Or oil that would be used in skin care or anointing?  Very baffling.

Proverbs 20

Verse 4:

A sluggard does not plow in season;
so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing.

I’ve heard it said that this means in certain seasons we are called to make lots and lots of money. I find that somewhat of a troubling doctrine, especially if during that season things that should matter more than money fall by the wayside. I’m referring to God, friends, family, loved ones, etc. Should we really “push the plow” so hard that these things are neglected? I find that hard to believe.

On the other hand, there is something to be said for diligent and concerted planning. I have one friend who is a full-time IT consultant.  As an independent contractor, there are times of plenty, and times of not-so-much. Sometimes he has a few contracts going on simultaneously. Other times, he’s pretty much jobless. And yet somehow, he and his wife (who’s a teacher) managed to buy a house here in Silicon Valley. But as far as I can tell, he’s never neglected the things that really matter.

To me, that’s diligent planning and doing a good job of “plowing in season” so that there is much during “harvest time”.

Proverbs 19

Verse 2:

It is not good to have zeal without knowledge,
nor to be hasty and miss the way.

This makes a lot of sense. If we’re going to be zealous for something, we’d better understand what we’re being zealous for. It seems a bit apropos to the Apostle Paul. It would even be ironic if we wrote it this way:

It is not good to have zeal without knowledge,
nor to be hasty and miss the Way.

Any Bible scholars catch my drift*? The early followers of Christ were said to belong to “the Way.” So if we re-write the passage with that in mind, we totally see how Paul’s zeal was misplaced, and he missed the Way. Paul was zealous for Judiasm. But he missed the gospel entirely. In Philippians 3, he lists his amazing credentials:

[He was] circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.

In verses 7 and 8, he tells us of his folly:

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish…

So indeed, if we are to be zealous, we’d better be educated on where we’ve placed our zeal.