Proverbs 22 – Words of the Wise

Verse 17-19 of Proverbs 22 make up the prologue to what some call “The Thirty Words” or “Thirty Sayings” that will continue from verse 22 all the way through to the end of Proverbs 24. Here are the writer’s words that introduce them:

Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise,
and apply your heart to my knowledge,
for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you,
if all of them are ready on your lips.
That your trust may be in the Lord,
I have made them known to you today, even to you.
Have I not written for you thirty sayings
of counsel and knowledge,
to make you know what is right and true,
that you may give a true answer to those who sent you?

Solomon's fame regarding his wisdom and wealth spread throughout the ancient world, even as far away as Ophir and Sheba. It is not certain where Sheba is exactly, but many scholars believe it may have been located along the Red Sea on the Arabian peninsula.The Temple that Solomon built for the Lord drew upon the vast wealth of his enormous kingdom. Once it was completed, Solomon's Temple was no doubt one of the great wonders of its time. Solomon's reputation brought acclaim and riches from many nations, but he disobeyed God, marrying pagan women and worshiping their gods. So God raised up enemies like Hadad from Edom and Rezon from Zobah (modern-day Syria). Jeroboam from Zeredah was another enemy who would eventually divide this mighty kingdom.

Solomon’s fame regarding his wisdom and wealth spread throughout the ancient world, even as far away as Ophir and Sheba. It is not certain where Sheba is exactly, but many scholars believe it may have been located along the Red Sea on the Arabian peninsula.
The Temple that Solomon built for the Lord drew upon the vast wealth of his enormous kingdom. Once it was completed, Solomon’s Temple was no doubt one of the great wonders of its time. Solomon’s reputation brought acclaim and riches from many nations, but he disobeyed God, marrying pagan women and worshiping their gods. So God raised up enemies like Hadad from Edom and Rezon from Zobah (modern-day Syria). Jeroboam from Zeredah was another enemy who would eventually divide this mighty kingdom.

These verses state the purpose of the “thirty words” – that the reader, or those who hear them, will apply them to their heart, know that they are true, and trust in the Lord.  Thus the reader will be able to communicate these truths to others with clarity and confidence. These thirty sayings are two line couplets admonishing the reader to pay heed to advice about many matters that are important to the Lord, and that are beneficial to one’s well-being in navigating life. They each also contain the desired and expected result that will come from heeding or not heeding these admonitions.

Saying one, in verse 22, begins with one that is most dear to the Lord’s heart – and hammered home again and again by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We are expected (commanded) to treat the poor with dignity, love and respect – making it clear, as all scripture does, that the Lord values the poor, and that He abhors those who mistreat them.

“Do not rob the poor, because he is poor, or crush the afflicted at the gate, for the Lord will plead their cause and rob of life those who rob them.”

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

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Proverbs 31 – The Excellent Wife

Proverbs 31’s superscription states that the psalmist was one King Lemeul.  There have been found no written records of any such king, but that does not necessarily preclude him from having been a king of some state.  There are some who claim that Lemeul was Bathsheba’s pet name for Solomon, but there is nothing to substantiate that claim.

godly womenVerses 1-9 are the mother’s words to the king, admonishing him not to ruin his reign with the self-indulgence of wanton sex and strong drink, as other kings not so wise have done. Instead, she instructs him further, a great king should see that those who are poor and in need of care are attended to properly – a truly excellent king.

The words of the chapter beginning in verse 10 are a most fitting conclusion for the Book of Proverbs.  So much of the written words in the book have been concerned with the evils of wicked women – prostitutes, bad wives, etc.  Now this writer goes into great detail praising the virtues of a truly excellent woman.

It reads like a laundry list of admirable qualities, but it would be a most unfair mistake to take it as a recipe for determining the goodness or worth of any woman.  Rather it is best to consider the qualities as those that any good woman should seek in their lives.  No woman (or man) is going to be that good at all things all of the time. These verses are an acrostic poem that runs the alphabet with a list of the traits of an “excellent woman.” She cares for those who need her – her family, and she also cares about those who are poor and in need. Notice verse 23 is the only one in the poem about the woman’s husband. He is known at the gates, as he sits among the elders of the land. The man would himself be a worthy man for sure, but a large part of why he is successful is because of his wife.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Proverbs 29 – Arguing With a Fool

Proverbs 29:9 reads:  “If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.”

English:

English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Almost everyone has heard some “wise sayings” that might sound similar to this verse.  One that was popular a few years ago was “Never argue with an idiot.  They drag you down to their level; and then they beat you with experience.”  Another one that has been attributed to everyone from Mark Twain to George Bernard Shaw is “Never wrestle with a pig.  You both just get dirty, and the pig likes it.”  Both have a ring of truth in them that makes them a bit appealing for their humor.

In the book of Proverbs, the word “fool” is sometimes used simply for an unbeliever.  Sometimes it is used for a person who lacks good sense, or who uses poor judgment. Sometimes they are interchangeable.   But whether the “opponent” is a fool by reason of his non-belief in the truth, or because of a stubborn will, or whatever reason, it really makes no difference.  No good comes from arguing with them.  2 Timothy 2:23 tells us “Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.”  The 24th and 25th verse explain that “the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.” When discussion becomes an argument, listening comes to an end, and with that, opportunity for salvation can get lost.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Proverbs 26 – More Hope For a Fool

donkey-01In many cases, when verses of the Book of Proverbs talk about a fool, this describes someone who simply refuses to believe the truth (as in the more famous verses 4-5).   Sometimes it refers to someone who consistently makes really bad choices.  This chapter of Proverbs begins with 11 verses concerning the fool. It varies from the poor advisability of depending on a fool for anything important, to the harm a fool can do to good people by his actions.  Then comes verse 12:

Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.

The reference to being “wise” in one’s own eyes is used in many passages throughout the Bible.  Paul referred to it in Romans 11:25 and Romans 12:16.  This refers to a person who will not consider anything that contradicts their own views because they trust their own intelligence and wisdom too much.  It is this obstinate arrogance that takes them to a degree beyond a fool.   There is little hope for such people because their intellectual conceit will likely prevent them from ever changing.  There is hope for the fool, however, if you can ever get one to stop long enough to actually listen.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Proverbs 25 – The Glory of God

I have to admit that sometimes it is my inclination, whenever I encounter a verse or two that I just don’t understand, to just move on to another.  And I am certain also that I am not alone in that regard, especially when it comes to the Book of Proverbs.  There is so much wisdom contained in these words from God that we cannot simply open our eyes and our minds and just breathe them all in with complete understanding the way they are “breathed out” by God.  Verse 2 is just such a verse for me.

It is the glory of God to conceal things,
but the glory of kings is to search things out

heavens_005But this one gnawed at me, and I was determined not to just let it go for now.  After searching my heart, the scriptures, and more than a couple of commentaries, I am still not sure I totally get it.  But maybe I am closer than when I started.  Deuteronomy 29:29 reads “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”  What secret things?  And what would God conceal?

So let’s try to make this just as clear as mud now.  In 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, Paul tells the Corinthians of an experience of “a man” in third person, of which he is clearly the subject – that of being caught up into heaven.  The text says it happened 14 years earlier, which would make it around 41-42 A.D. – after leaving Damascus. We are not told of any specific vision Paul had at that time, although he surely had many.

The salient point for this discussion however is where verse 4 says “he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.”   It is also true that Jesus told us that God has concealed understanding of the mysteries of the kingdom from those who consider themselves wise – and that he has revealed them to the “little children” (Matthew 11:25, Matthew 13:10-17).

Speculating from now until judgment day as to what Paul saw and heard will not get us any closer to the truth – except to know that there are things not of this “world” that we do not yet know, and some that many or all of us perhaps never will.  But we can all search for the truth in God’s word with our hearts and minds open; and we may find a truth that was hidden from us the last time we searched.  That is the reason we do daily Bible reading; and it is the reason that it is fruitful to do so.  We will never run out of something to learn.

Lean not upon your own understanding…

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Proverbs 14 – A Scoffer Seeks Wisdom in Vain

Paul preaches on Mars' Hill.

Paul preaches on Mars’ Hill.

Verse 6 of Proverbs chapter 14 states that “A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain, but knowledge is easy for a man of understanding.”  It is one of the great curiosities, and one could also say tragedies, of human nature that men have often come into a position in which they could gain real knowledge if not for their own pride.  Herod had a great opportunity, and Luke 23:8 tells us that he was even glad when he saw Jesus, “for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him.” But instead he treated Him with contempt and mocked him.  He could have had answers to all that matters, but he came away with nothing.  One could also point to some of those at the Areopagus on the occasion of Paul’s address in Acts 17:16-28.

Those who insist on leaning upon their own understanding risk being doomed to the same fate as any fool.  Jesus, speaking of his parables in Matthew 13, quoting Isaiah 6:9-10 said “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.”

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Proverbs 12 – The Way of a Fool

Because of the nature of the book of Proverbs, and the impossibly of commenting on all of a single chapter in these short paragraphs,we choose to pick one or two verses on which to focus.. Please see our  previous post on study tips for Proverbs.

Today this blog will focus on a single short verse from chapter 12. verse 15 reads:

“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.”  

This has been the plague of men (and women) since  time began; and the more learned we become the worse it gets.  During the cycle of the Judges 17:6 and 21:25 in Israel,  the text says “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”  The people would fall into apostasy over and over again until God rescued them and they would start the cycle all over again.   People worshiped their idols and turned away from God until things got so bad that they ended up crying out to him, and then he would save and deliver them.  This continued throughout the kingship of David and even the author of this book.

Even Solomon allowed the women that he turned to lead him into idolatry.  God often has tolerated foolishness by the self-deception of man since time immemorial and has allowed him to continue to make those kinds of mistakes because we have our own freedom to make our mistakes.The wise man listens to the advice and wisdom of our God, His son, and the Holy Spirit.

We are brought up in a world that teaches our children macro-evolution that we are no more than advanced animals that, this world is all there is, and that the Bible is little more than a book of fables.  So-called educated men make it their purpose in life to convince people who there is no purpose in life.  But His evidence is all around us, including His attributes (Romans 1:20).  We exchange the wisdom of God for the foolishness of man that we call wisdom, in order to justify our own unrighteousness and worship our own idols of sin and depravity (Romans 1:22-23). We tell the child there is no God and that he was foolish to believe there is and then we  wonder why so many lose heart and hope.

We must give true wisdom to our children though God’s word to combat the lies that this world tells them about who we are and where we come from; and teach them where they can go.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Proverbs 11 – The Integrity of the Upright

For helpful tips on reading the Book of Proverbs, see this previous post.

This is our day of the week for Proverbs this year, and today it is to Proverbs Chapter 11 that we turn.  And it is on three verses that we will focus. Verses 3, 5, and 6 all seem to say the same thing; and in truth they all convey much the same meaning, but there are some differences.  Let’s examine them all three, and then we’ll try to tie them all together.  First, let’s look at verse three:

“The integrity of the upright guides them,
but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.”

integrity

integrity (Photo credit: glsims99)

Integrity is a characteristic of the upright (those who live their lives according to God’s will).  It is that integrity which guides them in their daily lives.  The crookedness of the unfaithful is the converse.  The lack of integrity (here, “crookedness”) is a characteristic of those who are treacherous (the NKJV, the unfaithful).  That lack of integrity will destroy them.  Now verse five:

“The righteousness of the blameless keeps his way straight,
but the wicked falls by his own wickedness.”

None of us are truly “blameless” in the sense of being without sin.  What it means here is living a life that is above reproach – living in such a manner that would encourage others to serve God, rather than being a stumbling block.  Righteousness is being justified by the grace of Jesus Christ (Romans 3:20-24).  It is not earned, but it is freely given.  We can fall away from that righteousness (Romans 11:22, Galatians 5:4), but it is that righteousness that will keep the “blameless” on the right path. The wicked, on the other hand, fall by their own wickedness (more about that in a moment).  Finally, verse 6:

“The righteousness of the upright delivers them,
but the treacherous are taken captive by their lust.”

The grace of the Lord saves those who live according to His word.  But the treacherous are taken captive by their lust.  The NKJV substitutes “unfaithful,” but the “treacherous” defines it better – those who deceive, who pretend to have integrity, but secretly do not live that way.

cross-005Integrity is a commodity that seems to be in short supply at times.  But is integrity in every detail of our lives important?  What would you do for a million dollars?  Is your integrity for sale?  Sadly, the answer for many is yes.  Especially when it comes to “little things.”  A little “white lie” is sometimes necessary, right?  And so what if I really knew the clerk at the big store chain gave me too much money back?  Not my fault their employees can’t count change, is it?  But Jesus gave us the truth about this in Luke 16:10: “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.

There are few people who want to be thought of by others as lacking in integrity.  So most people at least pretend to have it.  By the same token, even those that have wicked or deceptive intent, do not want to be thought of as such by others.  And so, the wicked, the deceivers, the unfaithful sometimes live out lives for a long time fooling many of the faithful (and the unfaithful as well) into believing they are something they are not.  But they are trapped by their own lust – their own wickedness brings them down.

Psalm 7:14-16 tells us how it comes about, speaking of the wicked who conceive evil and give birth to lies:

“He makes a pit, digging it out,
and falls into the hole that he has made.
His mischief returns upon his own head…”

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Proverbs 9 – The Way of Wisdom

Lady wisdom (2)

Lady wisdom (2) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Together with Proverbs 1:7, verse 10 serves as a parenthetical summary of these first nine chapters, as this section of Proverbs ends and ushers in the actual Proverbs of the remaining chapters.  But here, the “fear of the Lord,” it expounds, is the beginning of wisdom – these chapters have taught the difference between knowledge and wisdom.  And the second part of the verse explains it succinctly – “the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”  Here, Lady Wisdom and Lady Folly are each calling out to mankind (even the simple) to come to a banquet they have prepared, the former of which offers a path to insight (verse 6).

Verse 7 states that one who corrects a scoffer will get abuse, and the scoffer will hate those that reprove him.  This is because of the condition of the heart.  Such people who are hostile to God cannot receive the truth unless they change their heart, and only God can help with that (Romans 8:7-8).   Conversely, reprove a wise man and he will love you; and he will be wiser if you instruct him (verses 8-9).  A righteous man will increase in learning, with instruction.  Perhaps the greatest wisdom of this chapter is in verse 12 “If you are wise, you are wise for yourself; if you scoff, you alone will bear it” (Job 22:2).  Those who reject the Lord do so at their own peril.

Verses 13-18 contain the final description of the call of Lady Folly.  She is loud, seductive, and knows nothing.  She implores the same simple ones to come, with the lie that “Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”  But her guests have been led down the path of destruction with the dead.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Proverbs 1 – The Beginning of Knowledge

The first 9 verses set the tone, and are widely regarded as the introduction of the entire purpose of the Book of Proverbs.  Coffman wrote “Wisdom is the ability to use knowledge aright,” and that the Christian has an advantage in that respect as 1 Corinthians 1:30 tells us that “because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.”  Verse 7 is the key: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”  Coffman’s comment on this is dead on:

English: Scroll of the Book of Proverbs

English: Scroll of the Book of Proverbs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“This is not a reference to abject craven fear, or terror, but to the awesome respect, honor, and deference to God and his will which automatically come to every mind that contemplates the omnipotence, glory, and holiness of Almighty God. This expression is found fourteen times in Proverbs.”  This latter fact is not inconsequential.  Every one of these fourteen passages containing those words conveys the richness of life and wisdom that comes to those that have this proper reverence and awe, and know the Almighty and the importance He places on things such as good, evil, and discipline (for reference, the others are Proverbs 1:29, 2:5, 8:13, 9:10, 10:27, 14:26, 14:27, 15:16, 15:33, 16:6, 19:23, 22:4, and 23:17).  The word “instruction” in verse 7 appears 26 times in the book, and the Hebrew incorporates “discipline” into its meaning.  This is central to understanding the “instruction” in verse seven and referenced elsewhere.

Verses 18 and 31 drive home the point, making clear that one’s actions contrary to good and righteousness mete out their own punishment to them.  The application of this instruction and wisdom to the young, as emphasized in  verses 4 and 8-9, are underscored in Ephesians 6:1-4 as well.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.