Proverbs Reading Challenge – Chapter 30

Only one day and one chapter left in Proverbs (after today).  This has been an amazing journey with so many insights and clear directions for living.  God’s Word is relevant for us today.

New Guy

Chapter 30 is written by a guy named Agur (30:1a) the son of Jakeh.  There is no other mention of them in the bible.   Agur may have been an adviser in Solomon’s or Hezekiah’s administration.  Their Hebrew names, (like all Hebrew names) do mean something. “Agur” means “gatherer’ and “Jakeh” means “pious.”  Some versions translate the names as common nouns: “The words of a gatherer, the son of the pious.”   We see the same thing in verse 1b  the New International Version, King James Version translate the second part of this verse using Proper Nouns “This man declared to Itiel, to Ithiel and to Ucal.”   The New Living Translation uses the common nouns:  “I am weary, O God; I am weary and worn out, O God”

I am weary and worn out fits best with what comes in verse 2.

Human Limits

30:2–3 The author declares ignorance in v. 2 that he has struggled to come to an understanding of the truth, and he must confess that he has reached his limit.   It is an acknowledgment of the limits of human understanding and a humble confession that only God is truly wise.

Jesus Christ

30:4.   Jesus Christ! These are direct references ( in the Old Testament) to Jesus.  In a series of rhetorical questions that allude to the creative power of God (and human lack of that power), he implies that no one can explain the metaphysical powers behind the visible creation. This is much like God’s confrontation of Job (Job 38:8–11).

The line “What is his name, and the name of his son?” Since “God” is the only possible answer to the first question, it is striking that the verse speaks of his “son.”   The Son of God came down from above to reveal the truth to his people (John 3:31–33). Also, Colossians 1:16,17  reveals  that through Christ the world was created.

God’s Word is Helpful

      30:5  The word of God, in contrast to human wisdom, is a reliable source of truth. In the real world of experience, people have found that God’s revelation stands true. So God is a shield to those who trust Him. The knowledge offered is not just abstract but is practical for dealing with day-to-day life.

Don’t Add to God’s Word

30:6 Verse 6 is an injunction against adding to God’s words similar to the injunctions found in Deut 12:32 and Rev 22:18. It is noteworthy that this verse does not warn the reader not to reject or take away from divine revelation; it is more concerned that no one try to add to it. It is what Paul called “going beyond what is written” (1 Cor 4:6). Such a practice makes people think   some Bible teachers have profound insight into the Bible and can find hidden truths. Sooner or later these super Bible teachers will be shown to be wrong (v. 6b).

Just Enough

      30:7–9  The author recognizes his weaknesses, both in his tendency to forget God when life is too easy and to turn in desperation away from God when life is too hard.   Like Paul, we can learn how to live whether we have little or plenty (Philippians 4:12),  the key is to learn contentment.

Slander

     30:10  More about slander.  Slander is talk meant to hurt another person. If you try to hurt someone’s reputation, they will find out and you will pay.  This is in the setting of talking bad about someone to their employer (trying to go over their head) but the lesson is the same, they will find out and you will pay: with a law suit or with a reputation of being malicious person.  Slander is bad and this behavior is always condemned in the Bible.

Four Types of Really Bad People

     30:11–14 This is description of four types of sinners: those who curse their parents (v. 11), those do wrong but will not recognize it as wrong, (v. 12), the highly arrogant (v. 13), and those who prey upon the poor and needy (v. 14 ).

The Greedy

     30:15–16  “The leech has two “daughters” (the two suckers at either end of the leech’s body) that always want more.  It probably was used as a taunt; anyone who gained a reputation as a parasite may have heard this proverb echoing in his or her ears.   True observations of greedy  or parasitic people, they never have enough.

What Happens to Parent Haters

   30:17 This verse looks back to v. 11 which already describes parent haters as big problem.  Notice what happens to them…  The image is especially graphic:  if birds are picking out the eyes it implies that the bodies lie unburied. To mock and scorn parents is to live a life characterized by lack of discipline and excessive violence, and such people are naturally prone to die a violent death, alone and with no one who really cares.

A Riddle and A Clue    

     30:18–20 What is there about an eagle in the sky, a snake on a rock, a ship on the sea, and a man with a young woman that mystifies the author? What do these four have in common? This is a riddle.   The eagle, the snake, and the ship can cross the sky, a rock, or the sea and leave no tracks.  No permanent trace of their passing remains. The link between these three and the way of a man with a young woman is in v. 20, which serves as a clue. Wiping her mouth after eating means that the adulteress treats sexual liaisons the same way she does eating: she just finishes up and goes home without a care and certainly without a sense of guilt.   It is the attitude of the couple, their moral indifference that astounds the writer. How can two people involve themselves in something as intimate as sexual union and then think nothing of it.

Four More Problem People

     30:21–23  No more riddles, just four types of people (2 male, 2 female) that cause problems: an unqualified individual who gains authority over others but doesn’t have the training or disposition to lead, a fat and satisfied fool, a bitter woman desperate for love, and one who destroys those around her.

 Four Animals to Learn From

30:24–28. The lesson of the ant is to provide for bad times during good times.  The lesson of the badger is to provide for personal security and build well.  The lesson of the locust is to cooperate. The lesson of the lizard is that you can succeed in spite of disadvantages. The lizard is relatively defenseless; lacking in significant claws or teeth, even a child can grab it.  But it can live in a palace, the best place in the country.

More Animals to Learn From

30:29–31 The lion is fearless, he goes straight ahead and doesn’t detour.  A lion is known for its unflinching boldness, and this trait should characterize the Christ follower.  The next animal is a strutting rooster.   He is not a powerful animal, but holds his head high.  He walks with confidence like one who walks with Christ should walk, not in fear or embarrassment. The other animal mentioned in this verse is the goat. The mountain goat is a climber who lives way up in the top of the mountains. He finds both pleasure and safety how he lives, like a Christ follower should.  And the last is the king.  The dignity of a king as he exercises his authority is to be respected.  Like these examples, we should live for Christ without fear, with dignity, security and respect.

Troublemakers Beware

30:32–33 Those who make trouble get into trouble. In v. 33  “churning milk makes butter, and twisting the nose produces blood, but who make trouble are liable to get punched in the nose!

More good stuff today, personally I enjoyed all the references to animals.  Until tomorrow!   Darrell

 

Sources:
Classic Bible Commentary
J  Vernon McGee’s Through the Bible
Life Application Bible Notes
Matthew Henry Concise Bible Commentary
New American Commentary
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Proverbs Reading Challenge – Chapter 29

Happy Tuesday!  Today’s Proverb has more helpful and convicting material.  Thanks for reading along.

Avoid Being Hard Headed

(29:1 and 2) Making the same mistake over and over is an invitation to disaster. Eventually people have to face the consequences of refusing to learn. If their mistake is refusing God’s invitations or rejecting his commands, the consequences will be especially serious. In the end, God may have to turn them away.  Verse 2 reminds us that when a society is good, society is happy; when evil rules, society is miserable.

Losing Wealth and Nation

29:3–4 This pair of proverbs creates a parallel between the son who squanders his family’s money and a ruler who squanders the wealth of his nation through corruption. In both cases lust or greed destroys a good thing.

Beware of the Traps

29:5–6  The idea of the trap or snare links these proverbs together. Flattery is a trap, but it is one the righteous can see and avoid.

Concern for the Poor

29:7 The righteous recognize the rights of the poor.

Order in the Court and in Society

29:8–11  Verses 8, 10 describe how mockers and the bloodthirsty try to destroy communities. They inflame others (v. 8a) and use violence (v. 10a). The wise, however, restore order to the streets and the justice system (vv. 8b, 10b). The point here, as in v. 8b, is that the just set things right.  The setting of v. 9 is the court, in which the recklessness of the fool is given full vent. In v. 11 the wise man controls himself in any confrontation with a fool.

Leading with Righteousness

29:12–14  A king, a president, or any chief executive officer must set a high standard and rigorously maintain it or face the consequences of corruption running rampant in his administration (v. 12).  The proverb should be read with an emphasis on the duty of the powerful to respect and protect the rights of the weak. “The LORD gives sight to the eyes of both” means that everyone depends on God for sight. Both the oppressor and the poor have the gift of sight from the same God. God sees and judges both, and his judgment falls on those whose greed or power drives them to oppress the poor

Discipline at Home and in the Nation

29:15–18  Discipline must be maintained at home and in society at large. Verses 15, 17 set up a simple contrast: those who do not discipline their children suffer embarrassment; those who do will be at ease (able to trust their children) and delighted with the children’s growth and accomplishments.

Verse 16a, repeats the idea that as ruthless people come to the forefront, society begins to experience widespread moral decay. Verse 16b, however, gives the assurance that those who stay in the right way will see the fall of evildoers. A contrast between immoral society and the moral individual is more pronounced in v. 18, which establishes the need for people to submit to the word of God. Verse 18 pronounces a blessing on whoever keeps God’s word.

Words and Self Control

 29:19–22  Verses 19, 21, reveal that words aren’t enough in correcting some situations in dealing with servants or employees.  Workers can become undisciplined and unreliable if some kind of authority and discipline procedure is not established.

People who are quick to speak and lose their tempers are all but hopeless cases. They also cause problems wherever they go (vv. 20, 22).

The First Shall Be Last

29:23 The arrogant will be brought down, and the humble will be lifted up. This recalls Jesus’ saying that the first shall be last and the last first (Matt 19:30; and see Prov 30:21–23 ).

 We Can’t Keep Crime a Secret

 29:24 According Leviticus 5:1, if someone has direct knowledge of the circumstances of a crime, and is called give testimony about that crime, but fails to do so, then the silent witness will be guilty. This proverb is saying that a thief’s accomplice won’t tell the truth when under oath. So, by his perjury, he will hurt himself.

Fear God and Seek Justice

29:25–26. Someone might be afraid to oppose the unethical actions of a superior out of fear of losing a job. This verse tells the reader to do what is right and trust the outcome to God. Verse 26 does not forbid seeking relief from injustice through the legal system, but it does state that one should place more faith in God than in human institutions.

The Righteous and the Wicked

29:27 This proverb sums up the whole chapter.  One must follow one way or the other (Jeremiah 6:16).

Until tomorrow, Darrell

www.Upwards.Church

Sources:
Life Application Bible Notes
New American Commentary
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Proverbs Reading Challenge – Chapter 28

Only 4 chapters left in Proverbs!   Here are more helpful life tips from God’s word:

A Life of Fear  

28:1 A guilty conscience and awareness that they have many enemies made leaves the wicked person continuously anxious and paranoid.

Selfishness Ruins Even Nations

 28:2 “It has many rulers” may mean each person’s selfishness quickly affects others. A selfish employee who steals from his company ruins its productivity. A selfish driver who drinks before taking the wheel makes the highways unsafe. A selfish spouse who has an adulterous affair often breaks up several families. When enough people live for themselves with little concern for how their actions affect others, the resulting moral rot contaminates the entire nation. Are you part of the problem . . . or the solution?  For a government or a society to endure, it needs wise, informed leaders and it needs people who have hearts that care about God and others more than just their own selfish desires.   This is why I love being part of this church where God changes hearts!  With Christ, we change lives which changes communities which changes our nation.

 Do What is Right and Go the Right Way

 ‍28:3, 8 Verse 3  a ruler ought to care for the rights of the poor as rain should help a garden, but instead he only beats them down. Verse 8 give examples of how the poor can be oppressed by the wealthy—making loans and then charging high interest rates. It adds that those guilty of such abuses will lose all their money to generous people.

28:4, 7, 9 Verses 4, 7, 9 are somewhat unusual in Proverbs in that they directly speak of the Old Testament Law (Torah). In v. 4 a person’s attitude toward God’s laws will determine their evaluation of people and their choice of friends. This naturally leads to the sentiment of v. 7, keeping the law keeps a person from the companion of gluttons and disgracing their father.   Verse 9 adds that those who reject God’s laws will lose the companionship of Him, as indicated by His rejection of their prayers. Taken together these verses teach that God’s law is a guide to choosing friends and maintaining good relations with family and God.

28:5, 10 Verse 5 deals with understanding or not understanding justice while v. 10 describes people who lead others into error. Verse 5b is in agreement with the central teaching of Proverbs that the fear of The Lord is the beginning of knowledge (1:7).

28:6, 11 Verse 6 -Don’t be jealous of the rich; money may be all they will ever have.

Through dependence on God in their struggles, the poor may develop a richness of spirit that no amount of wealth can provide. The rich man can lose all his material wealth, while no one can take away the poor man’s character.  Verse 11 shows that rich people often think they are wonderful; depending on no one; they take credit for all they do.   The wealthy think that their money proves they are smarter and morally superior, but the poor see that they are actually morally bankrupt.

Happiness or Hiding

 28:12  and 28:28a teach that when righteous people are in charge it brings happiness and hope to all people.  But when the wicked are in charge, people go into hiding.  The wicked dehumanize, bring despair and fear.    Lets pray, support and elect the righteous in every level of leadership.

Acknowledge Your Sin

28:13–14.  This verse (28:13) almost reads like 1 John 1:9.  Something in each of us strongly resists admitting we are wrong. That is why we admire people who openly and graciously admit their mistakes and sins. These people have a strong self-image. They do not always have to be right to feel good about themselves. Be willing to reconsider — to admit you are wrong and to change your plans when necessary. And remember, the first step toward forgiveness is confession. Verse 14 to “fear the Lord” means to respect and honor him

The Tyrant

28:15–16 The tyrant is compared to the lion and the bear as being both vicious and subhuman (v. 15). This idea is reinforced in v. 16, in which he is said to “lack judgment,” Understanding is a fundamental human trait; the ruler who embraces understanding and righteousness will enjoy a long life.

Guilt and Innocence

28:17–18  Guilt will drive a person to repentance or to death itself because of a refusal to repent.  It is no act of kindness to try to make the wrong doer feel better; the more guilt he feels, the more likely he is to turn to God and repent. If we interfere with the natural consequences of his act, we may make it easier for him to continue in sin.  Courts will punish murderers (v. 17), but the innocent do not have fear of punishment.   Whether by the hand of God or of men, the wicked will fall (v. 18b).

Prosperity the Right Way (28:19–27)

Proverbs doesn’t condemn prosperity, but always rejects greed.  These verses compare diligence and hard work with the desire for quick and easy money. Greed can be manifested in unrealistic business enterprises (v. 19), accepting bribes (v. 21), using flattery (v. 23), taking from one’s parents (v. 24), and general greediness (vv. 22, 25).

28:19  “Fantasies” or get rich quick schemes are way to go broke.  The point of the verse is that hard work is the only way to prosperity; anything else is a waste of time.

28:20. Verse 20 is like v. 19, but compares “faithful” (devotion to what is right) and being eager for wealth. Any person who thinks they can find a quick route to riches by taking shortcuts is in trouble.

28:21–22.  One quick route to easy money is by accepting a bribe (v. 21) and people can be bought off very cheaply.  Those who will sell their integrity in any way for money (v. 22) end up in poverty.

28:23 This verse speaks of another way of gaining position and wealth—by flattery.  Eventually people see through it, flattery or the money from flattery won’t last either.

28:24  Stealing from parents for the sake of money is the most appalling.  The language is strong.   I like the way the New Living Translation says it, 24 Anyone who steals from his father and mother and says, “What’s wrong with that?” is no better than a murderer. 

28:25–26   A greedy person causes strife everywhere.  But those who trust in The Lord do not cause quarrels and really will be satisfied. Verse 26 to trust yourself is foolish, but to trust God is wise.   It’s like the wise and foolish builders of Matt 7:24–27.

Those Who Give More Have More

28:27  Those who give will lack nothing.  God wants us to identify with the needy, not ignore them. The second part of this proverb could be restated positively: “those who open their eyes to poor people will be blessed.” (see Prov 11:24,25).  Never forget who meets our needs, God’s Word promises that He will supply all our needs (Philippians 4:19).

Until tomorrow, Darrell

http://www.Upwards.Church

Sources:
J Vernon McGee’s Through the Bible
Life Application Bible Notes
New American Commentary
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Proverbs Reading Challenge – Chapter 27

Good afternoon!  Thanks for reading through the book of Proverbs.  Today we will read more about relationships, friends, family, fools, marriage and more!

Bragging

27:1–2. These two proverbs are about bragging.  Don’t brag about tomorrow, you don’t know what will happen.  Don’t brag on yourself, leave that to someone else.  This is about being humble before God and others.

Unbearable Behavior

27:3–4. Both of these proverbs deal with behaviors that are hard to endure: resentment jealousy, anger and rage.   If you have a fool that resents you, you are in a bad situation, because a fool will say and do anything.  The same is true of someone who is really angry or jealous, their behavior is dangerous.

Honest Friendship

27:5–6  Honesty between friends:  verse 5 shows that few things are worse than being ignored, even by those who say they love but their actions are hidden.  Which is better, a friend’s wounds or an enemy’s kisses? A friend who has your best interests at heart may have to give you unpleasant advice at times, but you know it is for your own good. An enemy, by contrast, may whisper sweet words and happily send you on your way to ruin. We tend to hear what we want to hear, even if an enemy is the only one who will say it. A friend’s advice, no matter how painful, is much better.

Benefits of Friendship

27:7–10. These four verses are connected and continue the theme of friendship; the benefits of significant friendships. Verses 7 and 9 both deal with pleasant substances (honey, incense, oil) and the paradox that what may seem bitter (bitter food or direct advice) can actually be sweet.  Verse 9 reminds us that everyone needs the heartfelt counsel of a sincere friend.    Verse 8 and verse 10:  Normally the close family identity of the Israelites would mean that they go to a relative for help, and this verse is surprising for appearing to go against that custom.  This is good advice for us today:   a brother may be too distant (either geographically or emotionally) to be of help. The four verses together teach that you should seek solid, meaningful relationships among your neighbors and family.  Don’t just have relationships with people who you think are fun, but lack substance and do not turn exclusively to relatives, however distant they may be, depend on your friends as well.

Fatherly Advice

27:11  Be wise and it makes your father’s heart glad.  I read this as both our earthly father and our Heavenly Father.  There are critics everywhere, but it’s better to be criticized for doing what is right than be legitimately criticized for being foolish.

Business and Money

27:12–13  Verse 12 : the wise avoid impulsive and unsafe business ventures.  To “foresee danger and take precautions” would also advise that we have insurance and save money for a rainy day.   Verse 13:  do not risk wealth with irresponsible people and their shady deals, and mismanagement.  If it seems uncertain and unwise, it probably is.

Don’t be Obnoxious

27:14  You can mean well, but be considered obnoxious if you are not socially sensitivity to others.

 The Pain of a Quarrelsome Wife

 27:15–16 Verse 15, compares a contentious woman to a form of torture. We saw in 19:13 that this type of wife not just a nagging woman but a woman who quarrels with people generally.  She destroys the social, emotional, relational, spiritual and financial well-being of the home.  The same interpretation applies here as well.  *Quarrelsome nagging, a steady stream of unwanted advice, is an unbearable pain for anyone anywhere.  People nag because they think they’re not getting through, but nagging hinders communication more than it helps. When tempted to engage in this destructive habit, stop and examine your motives. Are you more concerned about yourself — getting your way, being right — than about the person you are pretending to help? If you are truly concerned about other people, think of a more effective way to get through to them. Surprise them with words of patience and love, and see what happens.  Verse v. 16 seems to state that her husband cannot “restrain” her from her nagging.  Only she or God could ever change this destructive behavior.  It can also mean that the husband tries to treasure or “hold” someone who can do him no good.  Simply put, she the antithesis of the productive wife of Prov 31.

Sharpening from Others

27:17 Verse 17 explains the benefit we get from interacting with others.  We should not shy away from social interaction because of all its educational opportunities.  The “sharpening” can occur in any area in which people are around one another:  business, school, recreation, church, community.  We can learn from others and they can learn from us.

Faithful Employees

 27:18  With all the problems and concerns a leader has, it can be easy to overlook the very people who most deserve attention — faithful employees or volunteers (those who tend the fig trees). The people who stand behind you, who work hard and help you get the job done, deserve to share in your success. Be sure that in all your worrying, planning, and organizing, you don’t forget the people who are helping you the most.

Who We Really Are

 27:19  Our hearts (mind, inner self, character) reflect who we are.  In other words, people have a basic consistency to them. Those who have integrity will maintain it in their inner and outer lives, and those who are perverse will be thoroughly perverted. We should learn how people read, or see their true reflection.  If you don’t like what you see inside yourself, ask Jesus to change your heart.  This is not a onetime prayer.

Greed is Never Satisfied

 27:20  Eyes that are not satisfied are eyes that are covetous, and the implied warning is to beware of such greed in self and others.

Praise is the Real Test

 27:21 Praise tests a person, just as high temperatures test metal. How does praise affect you? Do you work to get it? Do you work harder after you’ve gotten it? Your attitude toward praise tells a lot about your character. People of high integrity are not swayed by praise. They are driven by their inner convictions, and they do what they should whether or not they are praised for it.

Foolish is as Foolish Does

27:22  So this is where Forest Gump got this!

 Taking Care of Business

27:23–27 Verses 23–27 give the most basic of economic lessons: take care of your business, and it will take care of you.  Because life is short and our fortunes uncertain, we should be all the more diligent in what we do with our lives. We should act with foresight, giving responsible attention to our homes, our families, and our careers. We should be responsible stewards, like a farmer with his lands and herds. Thinking ahead is a duty, not an option, for God’s people.

Today we read a lot about friends, and their importance.  The best way to meet new friends and develop good friendships in our church is by being a part of a Connect Group or Ministry Team.  If you are not a part of one,  it’s easy:  just go to www.Upward.Church  and hit “Get Connected.”

Until tomorrow, Darrell

 

Sources:
J Vernon McGee’s Through the Bible
Life Application Bible Notes
New American Commentary
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