Tag Archives: Proverbs

Through the Bible, April 21

Reading: No Scheduled Reading

Thoughts and Reflections: This is the catch up for the third week of April (15-21).  No readings are planned, but below are some points to ponder based on this week’s readings.

  1. The Bible makes no bones about the extent of Solomon’s wisdom: “And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt” (1 Kings 4:29-30). That is remarkable itself, but so is the fact that people were drawn to this man for his wisdom.  He was world-renown.  “And people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom” (1 Kings 4:34).

People were drawn to, desired, and appreciated wisdom.  Who today is renown for their wisdom?  The fact is, we’re just not that interested in it.

“How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.” (Prov. 16:16)

  1. The book of Proverbs is actually a collection of collections of Proverbs. Notice these verses:

“The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel” (Prov. 1:1)

“The proverbs of Solomon” (Prov. 10:1).

“These also are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied.” (Prov. 25:1).

“The words of Agur son of Jakeh. The oracle.” (Prov. 30:1)

“The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him:” (Prov. 31:1).

  1. We sometimes think we know what God is up to; we’ve got figured out His actions and His deeds. Probably not.  “As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything” (Ecc. 11:5).

Devotional Thought:

I’m Not Alone

A woman still in the throes of grief in the weeks following her husband’s untimely death, commented on the value of a book on grieving she has been reading, “It let me know that I’m not going crazy.”

It is so good to know that we’re not alone, that we’re not isolated in our hurts and pains and sorrows, that the emotional turmoil and even confusion we feel is a shared experience.

This isn’t exclusive to grieving, but for any trouble we may face.  And that’s where one of the great values of the Psalms lies. So many of the Psalms allow the believer to know that their questions, uncertainty, anger, weariness, angst, or whatever, have been felt before and have been felt by others.  It is not a sign of failed faith or spiritual bankruptcy.

The misguided notion that in order for us to come to God and be received by Him we can only approach Him with all our “ducks in a row,” a high level of confidence and assurance, and an already sanitized and well ordered life is wrong.  It’s not emotionally or spiritually healthy.  The Psalms introduce to us people unsure and hurt and angry and searching.

The inscription of Psalm 102 says this well, “A prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the Lord.”

It matters not what I’m feeling or what I’m experiencing, it’s not new to God.  He’s heard it before and He’s seen it before.  It will help me to work through whatever it is, if He now hears it from me.

Through the Bible, April 20

Reading: Proverbs 10-12

Summary: We will continue today’s readings from the book of Proverbs, a collection of proverbs uttered primarily by Solomon.  Those found in the first nine chapters are longer.  Starting in chapter 10 they take a form that is more typical, that is two statements, the second contrasting or completing or somehow elaborating on the first.

The proverbs are in no particular arrangement, more or less just a continuous list.  Upon reading them, several themes do emerge and certain topics are frequently addressed.  For instance, many proverbs deal with our words, honesty and fairness, diligence and hard work, a good wife, friendships and associations, and so on.

The idea of a proverb is to provide instruction and advice that would help lead to living life wisely and well.

Again, today’s reading will be just a sampling of proverbs, all attributed to Solomon.

Devotional Thought:

Who Did You Wrong?

Don’t you hate it when someone does you wrong?  It’s irritating to say the least and without question it incites many negative emotions.  Think about the last time this happened to you and notice how easily and quickly those feelings can begin to well-up inside us.  Can you feel it? Anger, resentment, bitterness?  Be careful, though, and don’t allow those sentiments free reign; keep them in check—and I hope it’s not too late for that.

Now, I wonder what the person who did you wrong is feeling about that same incident?  Chances are, it’s nothing.  Even if what they did was intentional, the greatest likelihood is that they’ve moved on and haven’t thought of it again.   And if was accidental, it’s guaranteed their minds haven’t dwelt on it, even for the first time.

“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses” (Prov. 10:12).

Likely, more than one application can be made from this Proverb, but consider this: the strife stirred up isn’t necessarily between the two parties among whom the offense occurred, but it’s within you yourself.

That rancor and irritation and animosity is eating away at your soul.  Notice this Proverb in no way denies the reality of the offense.  It is real.  But that’s not the issue.  It isn’t what is right or fair or just.  It isn’t about the real hurt they may have been inflicted; and not that those are without merit.  But, the issue is your response.  Is it hatred or love?

Whether it is discontent, animosity, and strife that rule your heart and mind or it is peace does not depend on what others do—which you cannot control—but your response to it, which you can control.

That choice is yours.

Through the Bible, April 19

Reading: Proverbs 1-4

Summary: “And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt” (1 Kings 4:29-30).  That wisdom manifested itself in, among other things, 3,000 proverbs uttered by Solomon (1 Kings 4:32).

The book of Proverbs is a collection of many of Solomon’s own proverbs, though it also includes some authored by others (see chapters 30-31).

Though it appears that the book is a hodge-podge collection of wise sayings, it’s theme is very concise:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;

fools despise wisdom and instruction.

(Proverbs 1:7)

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,

and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

(Proverbs 9:10)

Today’s reading will be a sampling of some of the longer proverbs found in the first nine chapters.

Devotional Thought:

How Much Do You Want It?

An eager student approached the wise, old teacher claiming to desire knowledge.  “Please teach me!” he pled.

“You are not ready to learn,” came the surprising reply.

“Oh, but I am! I am ready!” the young student responded.

“Very well, then.  Meet me in the morning on the beach,” the instructor ordered.

The following morning, eager with anticipation the young man waited on the beach as the sun crept over the horizon.  After a brief wait the old man arrived.

“Follow me.”  No greeting; only this brief directive.  With that, out into the surf he marched.  Quite surprised but anxious, the young man followed.

They waded until the water came to their waste.  He stopped. Suddenly the old man lunged at the young, seized him by the back of the neck and plunged him into the sea.  And held him.  Shortly the young man began to struggle, then to flail.  He panicked and with every bit of strength fought the teacher’s grip.  Finally, after only moments that seemed eternal, he allowed the boy to rise.

A tremendous gasp filled his aching lungs.  “What are you doing?” he screamed.

Calmly came the reply, “Only when the intensity of your desire for knowledge matches that for air just now are you ready to learn.”

“If you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God” (Prov. 2:4-5).

How much do you want it?

Through the Bible, April Week 3 Bible Reading Introduction

Week 3: Solomon and His Wisdom

April 15-21

            Solomon is remembered for several important achievements, gifts, and accomplishments. The successor to David’s throne impressed God with his foremost desire for wisdom to adequately rule His people.  Consequently God provided not only unparalleled wisdom, but also incomparable wealth.  Solomon’s reputation spread throughout the world.

In addition to these Solomon leaves a lasting legacy as the builder of God’s temple.  His father had been denied the right to construct God’s house in Jerusalem but had gone to great lengths to make extensive preparations for his son to do so.

Sadly, all of these blessings and advantages did not result in the king’s continued faithfulness.  His life is a sad testimony to the fact that beginning well does not guarantee finishing well.

One expression of Solomon’s great wisdom was as an author.  The Bible’s books of Ecclesiastes and Proverbs are typically credited to him.  We’ll spend three days reading samples of his wisdom from these great books.  Another book attributed to him, but from which we will not read, is the Song of Solomon, a beautiful celebration of the intimate love of the marriage relationship.

Through the Bible April Reading Introduction

Kings and Prophets; Psalms and Wisdom

The Monarchy Flourishes, then Divides

Books: 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes

Israel’s monarchy is off to a faltering start, to say the least.  The first king, Saul, proved to be a troubled soul and a bitter disappointment.  Though the kingdom became a reality with his reign, it is his death, along with his sons, at the hand of the country’s chief nemesis, the Philistines, that leaves the entire enterprise exceedingly vulnerable.

Israel’s survival will demand a great king.  What they got was not just a great one, but their greatest ruler.  David moves swiftly to stabilize the nation.  Jerusalem is captured and established as the new capital, the borders are secured and greatly expanded, enemies are subdued. Even the national religion is addressed–organization and order is brought to the numerous priests and Levites, the ark of the covenant is brought into Jerusalem, and, had God permitted, David would have also built a temple.

Israel’s prosperity continued throughout David’s reign and into that of Solomon, his son.

David’s life and reign were not without troubles.  Beginning with his sin with Bathsheba and through the debacle of Absalom’s rebellion, this man of God faced great turmoil during the final years of his life, much as he had previously while on the run from Saul.

One of the great treasures of Scripture is the Psalms.  David authored many of these beautiful, poignant, and expressive poetic offerings.  One of their great values is the insight provided into the mind and heart of David as he reflected on his life, its events, and his relationship with God.  We will take time to sample several of his Psalms in week 2.

Solomon, David’s son, is remembered for three things: his great wealth, his wisdom, and as the builder of the magnificent temple to God.  Sadly, Solomon’s life and reign do not end well; yet another testament to the need for continued faithfulness to God throughout our lives.

Solomon conveyed his great wisdom in much writing.  Three books are attributed to his pen: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon.  We’ll make no effort to read all of these but will devote three days of our reading to a sampling of Solomon’s wisdom.

During the final week of April we’ll trace the story of the monarchy following Solomon.  Unfortunately that includes the kingdom dividing during the reign of his son Rehoboam.  As strong and lofty as the kingdom had risen under David and Solomon, it falls to great depths under the likes of Jeroboam and Ahab.  These spiritually trying times prompt the arrival of great prophets.  Though God has used many prophets before, none are utilized to the extent of Elijah.

The Joy of God’s Presence, September 10

September 10, Thursday: Great Truths

Scripture Reading—Proverbs 31:10-31

I want to draw your attention to the ones this text is not about. It’s about a woman who fears the Lord. Her value and worth are exceptional. But notice the people in this “worthy” woman’s life, her children and husband. Especially notice how they are to respond to her. “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her” (v. 28). This woman is to be recognized and honored and it’s her family’s responsibility to do so. This passage may present the “ideal” of womanhood, but it also shows that our wives and mothers should be honored and praised.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What are some of the tasks accomplished by this woman?
  • What is her clothing? (v. 25)
  • What does she teach? (v. 26)
  • What are deceitful and vain? (v. 30)

The Joy of God’s Presence, April 16

April 16, Thursday: Great Truths

Scripture Reading—Proverbs 1:1-33

What are the chances of ending right, if you don’t start right? Can one ever reach a desired destination or outcome without a correct beginning? As Mary Poppins said, “Well begun is half done.” The wise man says that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (v. 7). Later, he says “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (9:10). So, is there real knowledge and understanding and wisdom without fearing God? There may be education and there may be intellect, but genuine knowledge starts with fearing God.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What does a wise person do? (v. 5)
  • In what context is the message placed? (v. 8; see also 2:1; 3:1; 4:1, etc.)
  • Who cries out in the street? To whom? (vv. 20-22)
  • Is it ever “too late?” (vv. 26-28)

The Joy of God’s Presence, February 28

February 28, Saturday: Inspiration, Motivation, Encouragement

Scripture Reading— Proverbs 31:10-31

Women are mysterious to men. Cultures and societies have attempted to subjugate them. They, like other classes of people, have had at times to fight long and strenuous battles to gain equitable treatment among their male counterparts. To the surprise of many, it is the Bible that has done more to elevate women to their rightful place than any “women’s rights” movements. Though Scripture does teach the principle of male spiritual leadership, it also extols the virtues, industry, courage, honor, and worthiness of women. Any people at any time and in any place would be well served to be informed by Scripture about women’s God-given place and purpose.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What is the value of an excellent wife? (v. 10)
  • With what does she dress herself? (v. 17)
  • Does this woman contribute to the family income?
  • What woman is worthy of praise? (v. 30)

The Joy of God’s Presence, February 7

February 7, Saturday: Inspiration, Motivation, Encouragement

Scripture Reading— Proverbs 3:1-12

Life is best lived God’s way. The greatest joys, blessings, and pleasures result from following His will. Genuine success and favor flow from adherence to God’s commands, not in their neglect and certainly not in rebellion. Strange, isn’t it, that an entire book of the Bible is written to not just give us wisdom, but to encourage us to love and embrace and follow it. One of the most critical decisions we make is whether we’ll truly trust in the Lord or instead on our own understanding.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What blessings are attached to following God’s teaching? (v. 2)
  • What should be bound around our neck? (v. 3)
  • With what ought the Lord to be honored? (v. 9)
  • Whom does the Lord reprove? (v. 12)

A Week in the Word, August 24-30

 

Theme: Psalms & Proverbs — Life Well Lived in Proverbs

This week will mark only our second foray into the book of Proverbs.  Being a book that is about wisdom—pursuing it, acquiring it, and practicing it—and that the foundation of that wisdom is fearing God, the proverbs of this book also touch on very practical matters of living life.

Though the book of Proverbs appears to have no real order and arrangement beyond being a collection of collections of proverbs (see 10:1; 25:1; 30:1; 31:1), several themes keep cropping up. We’ll focus our attention on three of these themes: the family, the tongue, and self-control.

Proverbs seeks to impart wisdom about how life can be best lived.  It attempts to identify pitfalls, highlight common failings, and point the reader down the best possible path to a well-lived and fulfilling life.

Proverbs being what they are—short, compact statements of truth and wisdom—and the book of Proverbs being what it is—haphazard arrangement of these compact statements—our readings will be collections of single-verses from throughout the book based on the themes mentioned above.

Readings and Introductory Comments:

Proverbs 1:8                        17:1, 13                      25:24           

            3:33                           18:22                          27:15

            5:15-20                      19:14, 26                    28:24

            10:1                            20:20                         29:15

            11:29                          21:9, 19                     30:17           

            12:4, 7                        22:6                           31:10-31

            14:1, 11                      23:22, 24-25                                   

            15:6, 17, 20, 27          24:3-4

Following on the heels of last week’s theme (Christian Living — Family) we’ll begin our readings in the same place.  As just about anyone can testify, family can at the same time be a source of great joy and blessing, but also of great pain and misery.  Attention given to family can pay tremendous dividends and has a direct correlation to the joy and contentment of our lives.

Proverbs 4:24                                             15:1, 2, 4, 14, 23

            6:12, 16-17                                      16:24, 27, 28

            8:6-8, 13                                          17:9, 27, 28

            10:8, 11, 14, 18, 19, 31, 32             18:8

            11:9, 12, 13                                     20:19

            12:6, 13, 14, 18, 22, 23, 25             21:23

            13:2, 3                                             26:20, 22, 28

            14:3                                                  29:20

Nothing gives mankind any more trouble than our tongues.  James speaks directly to it in the New Testament (Jas. 3:1-12).  Nothing can get us into trouble quicker and nothing diffuse a volatile situation better or bring delight to ones life than the words we speak.  No theme in the entire book of Proverbs gets any more attention than the tongue.

Proverbs 6:34                        19:3, 11, 12, 19

            11:23                           20:2

            12:16, 23                     21:14

            13:16                           22:8, 24-25

            14:16, 17, 29, 35         25:15, 28           

            15:1, 18                        26:21

            16:32                             27:4

            17:14, 27                       29:8, 9, 11, 22, 23

            18:23                             30:32-33

The New Testament teaches us that self-control is characteristic of a life guided by God’s Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:23; Titus 2:11-12). It is therefore not surprising that a life well lived is one characterized by self control as well.

Study/Thought Questions:

Proverbs 1:8

  • From whom is a child to learn?

Proverbs 3:33

  • Whose house is blessed?

Proverbs 4:24

  • What is crooked speech?

Proverbs 5:15-20

  • What is drinking water a euphemism for in this passage?

Proverbs 6:12, 16-17, 34

  • What is #2 on this list of things God hates? (v. 17)
  • What enrages a man? (v. 34)

Proverbs 8:6-8, 13

  • What is an abomination to my lips? (v. 7)
  • What is listed alongside perverted speech as hated sins? (v. 13)

Proverbs 10:1, 8, 11, 14, 18, 19, 31, 32

  • Who comes to ruin? (v. 8)
  • Who has lying lips? (v. 18)
  • Who is prudent? (v. 19)

Proverbs 11:9, 12, 13, 23, 29

  • What does a man of understanding do? (v. 12)
  • What does a trustworthy man do? (v. 13)
  • Who inherits the wind? (v. 29)

Proverbs 12:4, 6, 7, 13, 14, 16, 18, 22, 23, 25

  • Who is (not “wears”) a crown? (v. 4)
  • What ensnares an evil man? (v. 13)
  • What does a prudent man do? (v. 16)
  • What can overcome anxiety? (v. 25)

Proverbs 13:2, 3, 16

  • How can one preserve life? (v. 3)

Proverbs 14:1, 3, 11, 16, 17, 29, 35

  • How is great understanding demonstrated? (v. 29)

Proverbs 15:1, 2, 4, 6, 14, 17, 18, 20, 23, 27

  • What is a good response to wrath? (v. 1)
  • What brings joy to a man? (v. 23)

Proverbs 16:24, 27, 28, 32

  • What are gracious words like? (v. 24)
  • Who is better than the mighty? (v. 32)

Proverbs 17:1, 9, 13, 14, 27, 28

  • What is one way to seek love? (v. 9)
  • Who has knowledge? (v. 27)

Proverbs 18:8, 22, 23

  • What is one “favor” from the Lord? (v. 22)

Proverbs 19:3, 11, 12, 14, 19, 26

  • What effect does good sense have? (v. 11)
  • Who brings shame and reproach? (v. 26)

Proverbs 20:2, 19, 20

  • Whose lamp will be put out in utter darkness? (v. 20)

Proverbs 21:9, 14, 23

  • What’s a good way to keep oneself out of trouble? (v. 23)

Proverbs 22:6, 8, 24-25

  • Who should not be your friend? (v. 24)

Proverbs 23:22, 24-25

  • To whom should you listen? (v. 22)

Proverbs 24:3-4

  • What builds up a house?

Proverbs 25:15, 24, 28

  • What is like an unprotected, unguarded city? (v. 28)

Proverbs 26:20, 21, 22, 28

  • With whose absence will a quarrel end? (v. 20)

Proverbs 27:4, 15

  • What is a quarrelsome wife like? (v. 15)

Proverbs 28:24

  • Who is like a person who destroys?

Proverbs 29:8, 9, 11, 15, 20, 22, 23

  • What’s the difference between the wise and the foolish? (v. 11)
  • Who shames his mother? (v. 15)
  •  Who obtains honor? (v. 23)

Proverbs 30:17, 32-33

  • Who will be eaten by vultures? (v. 17)

Proverbs 31:10-31

  • How valuable is an excellent wife? (v. 10)

Meditation Thoughts:

What would you say is the book of Proverbs’ answer to gossip?

Is it a valid response when one says about their temper, “That’s just the way I am”?  Why or why not?

In the family setting, what is of greater value and importance than getting ones way or winning the argument?

Memory Verse:

“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” (Prov. 16:24)