James 5 – Cover a Multitude of Sins

We conclude the Book of James, and an entire year of reading the Wisdom Literature of the Bible with this chapter. We hope you have learned as much as we have from this, and that your walk with God will be enhanced.

Elijah fed by ravens

Elijah fed by ravens

Chapter 5 shows us very well why many call the Book of James the “Proverbs of the New Testament.” James has several different gems of wisdom for the reader in this chapter, and we will do as we did with the Book of Proverbs, picking out one or two passages to consider. Verses 1-6 concern those among the rich who have prospered at the expense of the poor – oppressing, defrauding, and even murdering them.  James makes it clear that those people will be dealt with by the Lord in harsh measure upon His coming day.

Upon that premise, he calls upon the righteous to be patient, just as the farmer must be patient for his crops to grow, for the day of the Lord’s coming is at hand. Again he urges patience and steadfastness in verses 10-11, reminding us of the Lord’s compassion and mercy. In the closing verses, James puts great emphasis on the power of faith and of prayers, particularly the prayers of the righteous. He gives Elijah as an example. Time and again, as in verse 16, the scriptures emphasize how important our fellowship with one another in worship is, and how we lift each other up – here we are told to confess our sins to each other and pray together and for each other.

Finally, the charge is given to us to care for one another, particularly for those who have fallen away, and our reward will be great, as verses 19-20 conclude “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”

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.  

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Ecclesiastes 12 – The End of the Matter

Tray with Seal of Solomon

Tray with Seal of Solomon (Photo credit: voyageAnatolia.blogspot.com)

Clearly connected to the end of chapter 11, the first verse of chapter 12 begins with the admonition to “remember your creator in the days of your youth.” The coming “evil days” he refers to is the process of aging. Solomon is correctly pointing out that remaining faithful to the Lord is much better; and that returning to serve Him is likely to be more difficult if one wanders away. Solomon is beautifully eloquent in these first few verses.

Some commentators have supposed that the shift in verses 6-8 to speaking of the Preacher in the third person may indicate a different author. But such a supposition requires forgetting that the first chapter began the same way. This most beautiful of books ends with the last two verses giving the most valuable and timeless advice:

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.”

It is theorized by many that Solomon wrote this book in his later years, and must have repented for the sins of his younger years. We have no way of knowing whether this is actually the case., but we would like to think so. After all, all that wisdom had to be good for something, did it not?

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.  

Ecclesiastes 10 – Wisdom and Folly

At first reading, chapter 10 seems a little out of place. All of these proverbs look like they belong in a different book. But the theme of the chapter is the same as some previous chapters, and most of the proverbs relate to two contrasting things – wisdom and folly. Verse 4 seems to encourage those who serve in a position close to authority to stand their ground with gentleness under adversity. The evil “under the sun” Solomon speaks of in verse 5 refers to the fact that “fools”often are put in places of high position. One should not assume a person in such a position necessarily knows what they are doing.

 

English: Ecclesiastes, (קֹהֶלֶת, Kohelet, &quo...

English: Ecclesiastes, (קֹהֶלֶת, Kohelet, “son of David, and king in Jerusalem” alias Solomon, Wood engraving (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Verses 8-9 remind us that those who plan evil often fall victim to such things. Verse 10 indicates the value of working smarter – not harder. The wise man will take the time to sharpen the saw, whereas the fool struggles with the dull instrument. The remainder of the chapter deals with the proper conduct of those in authority, but verse 20 warns that one’s lips can easily get one into trouble when it comes to voicing unfavorable opinions of those in power. Better to not gossip in the first place.

 

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

 

/Bob’s boy

 

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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.  

 

Ecclesiastes 7- On Wisdom and Folly

Chapter 7 is full of proverbs, most of which are inter-related. The first few verses speak first of the value of a good reputation, followed by declarations that the day of the death of such a person is better than the day of their birth, partly because of the good name that person has made for himself.  In verses 2-6, “the heart of the wise” and “the heart of fools” means simply that those who are predisposed to wisdom take to heart the acts of sharing the important things of life – and of death – with other people, while others would rather be entertained.

Mourning in Old Testament Israel lasted for a week for an ordinary person, and usually for a month for an important leader, and often included professional singers and mourners.

Mourning in Old Testament Israel lasted for a week for an ordinary person, and usually for a month for an important leader, and often included professional singers and mourners.

Verses 7-12 teach the relationship of goodness to wisdom, and of wickedness to folly, and make contrasts between the former and the latter that are manifested in the way people react to life, and how they behave to others.  Then verses 13-14 point out that having prosperity or adversity in one’s life largely depends on the will of God, as His work is done. We should remember this when we have the latter, and be joyful with the former.

That is a great segue into verses 15-18, the last three verses of which are admittedly difficult to understand; and people have long differed greatly on their meaning. Verse 15 points out that, in this life, a righteous person may receive the fate we would rather see come to a wicked person, and vice-versa. Verses 16-17 are not a license to be sinful, as some have said. They simply mean that one should not believe one’s self to be more righteous or wise than they really are, and therefore deserving of God’s favor – any more than they should be brazenly wicked or completely foolish in their beliefs and actions. As verse 18 points out, it is the one who fears God that will come ahead in the end.

The rest of the chapter continues to elaborate on this relationship of wisdom, folly, good, and evil, with a warning in verses 21-22 not to take everything that others say about us to heart (good or bad). The good things said can lead one to foolishly believe in one’s own righteousness. The bad things said will not matter if we fear God.

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.  

Ecclesiastes 6 – Smelling the Roses

Solomon's Temple Vista

Solomon’s Temple Vista (Photo credit: arbyreed)

Chapter 6 is a difficult one to understand; and there is some variety among some commentators as to what is meant by some of it.  The “evil” that is spoken of in verses 1-3 seems to us to refer to a person who is blessed with much material wealth and standing among others, yet is so self-centered that he takes much for granted, and is never satisfied.  That line of thought is continued in verses 4-6. The NASB translates the reference to burial as a “proper burial.”  This could mean that this self-centered person who had so much was not so honored in his death.  Solomon once again refers to someone who never lived being better off than such a person (verse 3).

Verses 10-12 are seen as a very pessimistic outlook on life by Solomon, and indeed it may be so.  But the somewhat elusive meaning could be more along the lines that people must learn to accept the hand that has been dealt them and move on.  It does no good to fret and worry about what will be.  In the end, he does not know what will come next “under the sun” after he is gone. It seems to us that Solomon is merely continuing to stress that one must find his pleasure in his work and his life in the few days that he has been blessed with on this earth, remembering that what comes next is what really matters.

 

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.  

Five Tips for Reading the Book of Proverbs

Having completed the first nine chapters of Proverbs, we now settle in to our regular reading schedule for this year (you can find details on this year’s schedule in this previous post).  Monday is Psalm 119 day.  On Tuesdays, we will read a chapter of Proverbs, Job on Thursdays, and different Psalms on Wednesdays and Fridays.  Today’s blog is focused on the subject of “Tuesdays.”

Proverbs 3:13

Proverbs 3:13 (Photo credit: heymarchetti)

So now that on every Tuesday we will be reading Proverbs, some good questions arise.  How can we get the most out of reading these other chapters?  Proverbs is, after all, a very different book from any other in the entire Bible.  There is no intuitive continuity of thought in each of the remaining chapters – seemingly just one “proverb” after another.  And really, just what is a proverb  anyway?  Is it just a wise saying, like “Early to bed and early to rise…?”  Like all Scripture, this book is inspired – it contains the wisdom of God!  One writer said that “God in His wisdom provided the book of Proverbs as a help in navigating life,” and that is an excellent description of them.  But one that we like even better was written by David Kidner is his commentary:

It is a book which seldom takes you to church. Like its own figure of Wisdom, it
calls across to you in the street about some everyday matter, or points things out
at home. Its function in Scripture is to put godliness into working clothes; to
name business and society as spheres in which we are to acquit ourselves with
credit to our Lord, and in which we are to look for his training.”

Proverbs 1:7

Proverbs 1:7 (Photo credit: heymarchetti)

That is so true.  But even one chapter of this great book can seem very overwhelming if you try to take all of it in at once. There is wisdom to be had in this book that could fill volumes; and we may find proverbs in these chapters that apply to the circumstances and/or difficulties in our lives at any time.  But not every proverb in every chapter is going to seem applicable to our lives at all times.  And certainly any attempt to “blog” on an entire chapter of Proverbs in just a few short paragraphs would be woefully inadequate.

So we will be taking a different approach, focusing on selected verses in a chapter each Tuesday; and we suggest that you take a different approach to Proverbs as well.  And since there are only 22 chapters left, we will start again (with chapter 10 and following) later in the year, in order to focus on a few other verses.

Here are some tips for the Book of Proverbs as we go through the year:

  • As you read a chapter in Proverbs each week, underline, highlight, or copy and paste one or two verses that stand out as particularly relevant to your life at the time.
  • After reading the chapter, go back over those verses you singled out, and find one or two that seem really meaningful to you.  Work on memorizing one or both of those two verses during the week.
  • Consider speaking about that verse with someone you care for, a friend, or even posting a comment on one of these pages.  Your thoughts on the subject may be helpful to someone else!
  • Don’t forget to mark some of those that you simply do not understand in some different manner ( a separate list, different color highlight, etc.), so that you can look at some other time.  You will be surprised what a difference a fresh look and a different perspective can make.

Finally, and most importantly, begin applying the proverbs that you have singled out in your daily life.  As we “put godliness into working clothes” in 2013, we will surely have grown in wisdom by the end of this year!

/Bob’s boy

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Summing Up

Each weekend, I am now posting a small PDF of one week of chapter summaries (on the website’s “Summaries” page), current to the beginning of the previous week.  I have posted the summary for Week 1 (January 2013 Week 1) of the schedule I am following this year.  This short PDF documents contains condensed comments about Proverbs 1, 2, 3, 9, and 10 with hyperlinks to the ESV version of each chapter for listening or reading.

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image © 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 8 – The Blessings of Wisdom

An Oxford degree ceremony — the Pro-Vice-Chanc...

An Oxford degree ceremony — the Pro-Vice-Chancellor in MA gown and hood, Proctor in official dress and new Doctors of Philosophy in scarlet full dress. Behind them, a bedel, another Doctor and Bachelors of Arts and Medicine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Solomon begins by personifying Lady Wisdom further, summoning the reader to hear her call.  This is the ultimate of these chapters illuminating the two paths of wisdom and folly, or foolishness. The fact that the “fear of the Lord” is the beginning of all knowledge is again made infinitely plain in this chapter.  “She” begins by further developing the inclusion of righteousness as an integral part of wisdom (verses 6-9), the reasons for seeking it so earnestly (verses 10-11), and the benefits it provides mankind (verses 15-19).

She calls upon all the “children of man” (verse 4) – the simple, the fool, the learned – all who seek wisdom diligently will find it (verse 17).  But again, we are reminded of the difference between mere knowledge and true wisdom – the insight that comes to those who seek it without wickedness, who have prudence, who are just and seek justice, and those who abhor evil and are not full of pride, arrogance, and who avoid perverse speech.  True wisdom does not dwell in those who do not walk in the path that the Lord has made for us, no matter how “intelligent” that person may be.  Verses 8-9 make clear that only those who truly understand these facts will attain that wisdom, and that is so because those facts are clear for them to understand.  The unrighteous cannot have that understanding, and so they are denied true wisdom.

Verses 22 and following detail how wisdom “was” before God created the earth and all things universal, and how he delighted in his creation.  He created all things physical, all things invisible, and even the abstract.  There would not even be any concept of things such as beauty, love, truth, right, wrong, or even the concept of such things as a name or a number, but for the power of the Lord.  And Jesus, the Son, was there and is Himself that wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:22-24, 1 Cor 1:30, 1 Corinthians 8:6, Colossians 1:15-18).

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 5 – Warning Against Adultery

After the opening verses, again admonishing the reader to both hear and to understand, the chapter immediately begins its warning against sexual promiscuity.  Most people rightly see the particular application to young people.  But the message to parents is somewhat more subtle if one does not focus on it.  Take verse 23 in particular: “He dies for lack of discipline.”   Nothing should be more sobering to parents than this warning about how much is at stake.

Bible-time weddings were festive occasions, sometimes lasting a week or more, with great celebration and joy.

Bible-time weddings were festive occasions, sometimes lasting a week or more, with great celebration and joy.

Our young people today more than ever grow up in a world that is rich in media that glorifies sexual immorality, with role models and adults in positions of authority that do little to contradict (and most often, reinforce) this outlook.  It is the job of the parent to educate the souls of the little ones entrusted to them concerning the intention God has for right use of the sexual relationship – between a husband and wife.   Verses 15-20 (“Drink water from your own cistern…” and “…let them be for yourself alone…””) remind of Jesus in Matthew 19:4-5, quoting Genesis 2:24: “the two shall become one flesh.”

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.

Introductions Continue – Proverbs

Book Of Proverbs

Book Of Proverbs (Photo credit: neonbubble)

This week, we will finish our reading of the first nine chapters of Proverbs, before setting into our regular schedule for the year (for more details on that schedule, see this previous post).  These first nine chapters are a series of discourses that convey the message about wisdom that Holy Spirit is teaching us in this book – about life itself, service to God, and our salvation.  A proper understanding of these nine chapters will prepare us for the actual proverbs of the remainder of the book.  Much of the proverbs themselves are self-explanatory, but the knowledge they convey takes a little work to gain the insight Solomon speaks of (Proverbs 4:1).  After this week, we will find a “voice” to express what this writer is taking away from some of those proverbs.

Summing Up

Each weekend this year (beginning next weekend), I will be posting a small PDF of one week of the daily reading summaries (on the website’s “Summaries” page), current to the beginning of the previous week.  I will post the summary for Week 1 (January 2013 Week 1) of the schedule I am following this year next weekend.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
image © 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.