Proverbs 7

Verses 8-9:

He was going down the street near her corner,
walking along in the direction of her houseat twilight, as the day was fading,
as the dark of night set in.

Chapter 7 is another chapter dedicated to warning against adultery, just like Chapter 5. I think this is an interesting set of verses because it sets the stage for the “youth” to fall into temptation. Verse 7 calls him “a youth who lacked judgment.” I think it’s this lack of judgement that really sets him up for failure.

But verses 8 and 9 really tell the story of where he went wrong.  First of all, in verse 8, we learn that he is headed “in the direction of her house.” Bad idea number one. We know that we need to flee from temptation, not run towards it. Second, verse 9 mentions that this was at twilight, as it was getting dark. And we have to remember that “back in the day” they didn’t have electricity or nice street lamps to light the way home. And yet, he’s out and about headed towards the house of the adulteress.

This is bad news.  You’ll have to read the rest of the Proverb in order to know what happens, but I think you already know the result…

Proverbs 5

Verses 3-4:

For the lips of an adulteress drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil;but in the end she is bitter as gall,
sharp as a double-edged sword.

It’s interesting to me that there is an entire chapter dedicated to the warnings against adultery. I think all too few Christians (especially Christian men) read this passage. The temptation is to go after the sweetness of honey or the smoothness of oil, “but in the end” the result is bitter and painful.

This is totally true of all sin, though, not just adultery. It always seems pleasurable at the time (otherwise, why would we do it?) but the consequences are quite dire. Some are immediate–like guilt; others take longer to develop–like STDs or ruined familes and friendships, and even the ultimate consequence of sin: Death. But the point is that  in the end, nothing good can come from sin. In this case, nothing good comes from adultery.

Proverbs 4

Verse 7:

Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have, get understanding.

This seems contrary to the story in Matthew 13:44 of the Parable of the Treasure. That man spent all he had on a treasure which is a metaphore for the Kingdom of Heaven. I’m not entirely sure that “wisdom is supreme” in light of this parable. It seems that the Kingdom of Heaven is supreme.

Though I have to wonder if getting wisdom would lead to finding the Kingdom of Heaven.

Proverbs 3

Verse 11:

My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline
and do not resent his rebuke,

I think it’s often difficult to discern between God’s “discipline” and the “trials and tribulations” that God allows us to go through for our benefit. Obviously, discipline is tied directly to our wrong-doing, but I think it’s still easy to confuse the two.

Regardless, it’s important for us to not despise the times of discipline that do occur in our lives. Or the times when He rebukes us, it’s important not to resent them. After all, ultimately, it’s all for our good.

Proverbs 2

Verse 6:

For the LORD gives wisdom,
and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

In keeping with yesterday’s post, it seems I now know my parent’s secret.  They must’ve gotten all their wisdom from God 🙂

In all seriousness, God’s wisdom is a very powerful thing. James chapter 1 admonishes us to ask for it if we lack it.  What I’ve discovered in my own walk with God is that His “gift” of wisdom is rarely a nice, neat package that arrives in the mail which we can simply ingest and become wise. Quite often, God’s gift of wisdom is a lengthy process. It’s the process of discovering–with His direction and influence–wisdom.

Here’s a more concrete example:

Having been married just over 6 months (187 days for those keeping track), I’m still learning how to be a good husband to Charlene. I’ve prayed for wisdom on how to be a good husband, but I’ve never had a moment where the skies opened up, a bright light shone on me, and I had it all figured out. It’s been a process; a process of messing up, learning from my mistakes, and doing it better the next time. Hopefully, I’m becoming more wise each time. It’s a slow process, but I’d say I’m a wiser husband than I was when we got married. And theoretically, I’m a wiser husband today than I was as a fiancé a year ago. (You’ll have to ask Charlene for the truth, I suppose.)

In any case, we do need to ask God for wisdom. He’s the one who gives it, and He gives it freely to all who ask.

Proverbs 1

After a horrible August of posting on Proverbs, I’m trying to get back on the horse here in September.  So as to not blow through the whole month with apologies, I give you Proverbs 1:

Verse 8:

Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction
and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.

This proverb has served me quite well throughout my years. I’m pretty blessed to have the parents I have. They’re both pretty wise and generally have good advice. That’s not to say that they’re perfect, but I think they do a pretty good job.

The teaching and instruction they instilled in me since I was young have served me quite well.

Thanks, Dad and Mom!

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.

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.