Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Proverbs 10: 2

Today’s verse contrasts wickedness with righteousness:

Proverbs 10: 2 (NKJV)

2 Treasures of wickedness profit nothing,
But righteousness delivers from death.

Many people in today’s world look at monetary wealth, a high class car, prestige, good looks, a high paying job, a “perfect” family and/or marriage, etc. as treasures to be sought after. None of these things are, in themselves evil, but when they are put first in a person’s life and become “idols” to that person, then they become sin.

ANYTHING that is put above what God would want, and/or that keep our eyes focused on something OTHER than Him, is an idol, and worshipping “idols” is considered by God to be “wickedness.” The Online Dictionary defines an “idol” as: 1. an object of excessive devotion or admiration; 2. an image of a “god” used as an object of worship.

These kinds of “treasures” are only temporal and of this world. We will only live in this world for a short time in relation to the amount of time we will spend in heaven or in hell. WE have the choice, while on this earth, to choose one of those two places to spend eternity. We can’t take any of these earthly things with us, but we WILL take the RESULTS of the path we choose, to the place we have chosen to live after this life. EITHER we walk with a loving God (following and seeking His ways), or we follow some “idol” that will mold, rot, or rust.

The Bible says that a person is “righteous” when he/she chooses to put God first and follow Him and His ways in his/her life. “Righteous” is defined in the Online Dictionary as: 1. Morally upright; without guilt or sin.

God promises a life in heaven, with Him, to those that choose to follow a life of moral “uprightness” and that turn away from sin. We, as humans, could never do this on our own… we will ALWAYS fall short. THAT is why Jesus paid for our sinful lives by giving HIS sin-LESS life. When we REPENT of our sins (tell God we are sorry we didn’t do what He wanted us to), ask Him into our lives and hearts, and then strive (with the Holy Spirit’s help that He gives us at that point) to follow Him, then we are SEEN as being “righteous” by God.

He knows, then, that we want to follow HIM and not our own ways. We DIE to ourselves and put HIM first. When this happens, we are “born again” with a new spirit within us, and that, eventually “delivers from death,” as the end of this verse says.
I think that this is the “second death” spoken of in Revelation 2:11 (“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”) Our body MAY die (depending on if Christ comes first) but our new Spirit that is following God, will never die.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Proverbs 10: 1

The Book of Proverbs is broken up into several parts. The first 9 chapters, as we have seen in our studies so far, were written by Solomon and specifically contrasted the value of searching for wisdom and the foolishness of following “folly” or our own sinful nature.

This next section that starts in Chapter 10 and continues through Chapter 22: 16 is a collection of single verse proverbs, in most cases. They are short, proverbs that are like “snapshots” of things that God would like us to see and remember. Throughout this section, we will probably only study one or two of these at a time, so that we can have time to meditate on them between each study. I may be able to start posting more often, as well.

Proverbs 10:1 (NKJV)

1 The proverbs of Solomon:
A wise son makes a glad father,
But a foolish son is the grief of his mother.

The first verse of this new chapter states that Solomon is the author of these Proverbs just like the beginning of the book did. There is a part toward the end that many believe was written by someone other than Solomon. It is interesting to note that in the Hebrew word for Solomon, the numerical value of the consonants add up to 375, the exact number of verses in this section of Proverbs. It is believed that these proverbs were taken from a larger number of sayings, but chosen for this reason.

Verse 1 reminds us that when a son makes wise choices in his life, his parents will be proud and happy, but that they (especially the mother, as mother’s tend to react more with emotions) are filled with grief when he follows a foolish path.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Proverbs 9: 13 – 18

These last six verses of Chapter 9 contrast with the verses from our last study. Those verses were about wisdom, and these are about “Folly,” as again portrayed as a harlot or adulterous woman.

Proverbs 9: 13 - 18 (NKJV)
The Way of Folly
13 A foolish woman is clamorous;
She is simple, and knows nothing.
14 For she sits at the door of her house,
On a seat by the highest places of the city,
15 To call to those who pass by,
Who go straight on their way:
16 “ Whoever is simple, let him turn in here”;
And as for him who lacks understanding, she says to him,
17 “ Stolen water is sweet,
And bread eaten in secret is pleasant.
” 18 But he does not know that the dead are there,
That her guests are in the depths of hell. (Sheol)

Verse 13 speaks of a “foolish woman” that “is simple, and knows nothing.” This “foolish” woman is loud and obnoxious (clamorous) and sits near her house, but on the way, or path to the high places where the other verses have told us that the young person should go to so that they can study wisdom. She calls out and tries to distract those that are trying to “go straight on their way…”

I see a picture here of the way that the world and “evil” sits in wait and tries to distract us from following the paths that God wants us to follow. Those that try to follow the “straight” path, often find their way surrounded by temptations that would call us from that path.

Verse 16 continues the message that most of the chapters that we have studied have put forth, in that this “woman of evil” targets those that are “simple” or “lack understanding.” She tempts these foolish young people the same way that they are being tempted today… by telling them that the sinful thing that she is presenting is “good.” This is the same lie that those that get into drugs, alcohol, etc. get started… even those of us that crave too many carbs, sweets or other things that are bad for us.

Water and bread, are things that we NEED, but we must be careful to use it wisely, in the ways that God created it to be used. It is the same with all the things that God put on this earth to bless us, but that have gotten twisted and misused.

The last verse warns that those that would follow the ways of “Folly” or foolishness, don’t realize that they are on a path AWAY from God and the LIFE He gives, and that following this other path will, eventually, lead to their death. These verses conclude with, “her guests are in the depths of hell.”

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Proverbs 9: 7 - 12

Today’s verses speak of how we should handle scoffers. They also speak of the differences between scoffers and wise men. The Online dictionary defines a "scoffer" as: "someone who jeers or mocks or treats something with contempt," and in this case it would be someone who is treating God's Word and wisdom this way.

Proverbs 9: 7 - 12 (NKJV)
7 “ He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself,
And he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself.
8 Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you;
Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.
9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;
Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.
10 “ The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
11 For by me your days will be multiplied,
And years of life will be added to you.
12 If you are wise, you are wise for yourself,
And if you scoff, you will bear it alone.”

I found verses 7 & 8 to be very interesting. They tell us NOT to even try to correct scoffers because, apparently it very rarely, if ever, does any good, and all it DOES do is cause arguments that bring “shame” on the person who is trying to help and drives the “scoffer” away from you.

It may even cause him to “hate” you. Worse, if you try to rebuke a “wicked man,” you might even come to bodily harm yourself!

I know that there are people like David Wilkerson, that wrote “The Cross and the Switchblade,” that have been given special grace and power by the Holy Spirit to work with people of this “nature,” but they have received a specific “call” of God. For the average person, I think that we should remember that arguing with someone like these that are mentioned, just causes more problems. I think the best thing we can do is to keep them in prayer, until, or unless they come "seeking"!

The end of verse 8, and all of verse 9 tells us that those that are “seeking” wisdom, or “wise men” react quite differently to rebukes (done properly), instructions, and teaching. THESE type of people will see the wisdom in your “help” and end up loving you, becoming “still wiser” and add to his “learning.”

The principle from Prov. 1:7, which says “7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (NKJV)” is sort of repeated in verse 10 of this chapter, and this verse goes on to say that “the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” As I mentioned when we studied Proverbs 1:7, This is a scripture that is quoted quite often… and we see this one illustrated way too often in our world today… at least the part about “fools.” (For those that weren’t with us at the beginning of our study of this book, I will repeat the paragraph from that study)

The Hebrew words that are translated as “fool” in Proverbs, and often elsewhere in the Old Testament, denote one who is “morally deficient,” which is the ultimate end of those who turn away from seeking to become wise and/or those who reject discipline in their lives. It is easy to see that more and more of our young people are turning away from seeking wisdom from their elders, and are rejecting discipline in their lives. This verse tells us that this is the reason that our country is becoming more and more devoid of morals in so many of our youth.

Verse 11 also repeats a principle that has been put forth in our earlier studies in Proverbs 3:2. It states, again, that having “wisdom” will add to the life that we are given. We also learned in that study, that King Hezekiah DID ADD YEARS (15 to be exact) to his life because he understood God and His principles. (See 2 Kings 20: 1 – 6)

Our last verse today tells us that we can’t “make” anyone else wise… we can only work on making ourselves wise. We can help those who are also searching for wisdom, but it is up to them to seek, search for, ask, and then put the principles into their lives so that they can grow in wisdom. It goes on to say that being a scoffer, will ALSO be up to you and the way you decide to live, and you will have to bear the results of that choice.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Proverbs 9: 1 - 6

This is the last chapter on the differences between “wisdom” and “folly,” where both are portrayed as women that a “young man” needs to choose between. After this, we will look at the small, pithy "proverbs" that this book is known for. As we have seen before, these chapters that we have been studying are being used to “teach” a young person, so they have come at the same basic premises over and over as that is one of the main ways people learn. I guess that “practice makes perfect” sort of works here, too!

Proverbs 9:1 - 6 (NKJV)

1 Wisdom has built her house,
She has hewn out her seven pillars;
2 She has slaughtered her meat,
She has mixed her wine,
She has also furnished her table.
3 She has sent out her maidens,
She cries out from the highest places of the city,
4 “ Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
As for him who lacks understanding, she says to him,
5 “ Come, eat of my bread
And drink of the wine I have mixed.
6 Forsake foolishness and live,
And go in the way of understanding.

In Verses 1 & 2, we see that Wisdom, FIRST, puts her own house in order, building it with seven strong pillars … and seven almost always denotes “completion.” So she isn’t going off trying to teach until after she has had a chance to grow and learn, herself. After the house is strong, then she prepares the “meat and wine” that she will share.

Verse 3 shows her (Wisdom) sending out her maidens (which would be her “messengers”) to the highest places in the city, which would be another place, like the gates, that people gather to listen, teach and discuss ideas.

In Verses 4 - 6, her message to the young in these places is, come and search for “understanding.” She implores the simple ones to “eat of my bread.” Jesus often refers to himself as “the bread of life.“

John 6:32-41 (NKJV)

32 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34 Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.” 35 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

As we see again, Jesus IS part of Wisdom’s feast, and, all the way through scripture, the wine represents the Holy Spirit, so Wisdom is calling people to join in a feast that will bring TRUE, everlasting fulfillment and life, and as Verse 6 comments, we must leave our old, foolish ways of thinking from BEFORE turning to God, so that we will eat of this “Bread of Life.”

Friday, June 19, 2009

Proverbs 8: 32 – 36

These verses conclude chapter 8 of Proverbs. They pretty much repeat that “Wisdom” should be listened to because those that follow “her” will be blessed. We should ask for, and seek, “her” diligently where she is to be found… in this case, as has been discussed, in the gates of the cities where the elders met. Speaking with wise elderly people and really listening to them shows wisdom.

Proverbs 8: 32 – 36 (NKJV)

32 “ Now therefore, listen to me, my children,
For blessed are those who keep my ways.
33 Hear instruction and be wise,
And do not disdain it.
34 Blessed is the man who listens to me,
Watching daily at my gates,
Waiting at the posts of my doors.
35 For whoever finds me finds life,
And obtains favor from the LORD;
36 But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul;
All those who hate me love death.”

As you can see, our verses go on to say that those that find “Wisdom,” find life, AND will gain the “favor” of God. This is something that I really want to do. I want to stay in God’s will so that I may find His favor, and I don’t want to find myself “fighting” wise ways because the last verse for today warns me that if I do, I will “wrong” my own soul.

Since sin causes the soul to die, and sin is the opposite of being wise, which equates to seeking and following God’s ways, then this makes a lot of sense to me. It would, logically follow, that anyone who “hates” following God, would “love death…” for death ultimately equals separation from God.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Proverbs 8: 22 – 31 Revisited…

In our last study, we were treated to a glimpse of God’s mind during His creation of our Earth. The scriptures in other areas of the Bible tell us that Jesus (the Word at that time and later embodied in flesh) was there with God, helping in the creation. Today, I want to go over these verses again, in just a bit more detail, looking at them as God’s Wisdom—the other side of the same coin.

These first two verses tells us that God has had “wisdom” from the time before earth… before time began being counted. God IS wisdom and is “outside” of the dimension of “time.”

22 “ The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way,
Before His works of old.
23 I have been established from everlasting,
From the beginning, before there was ever an earth.

Verses 24 - 29 let us know that God’s Wisdom came before the seas, the mountains, the earth, field, or even the dust, and by that wisdom, He made these things. He had a plan already worked out for human beings, and He used His wisdom to create a world that would be perfect for those humans that He planned to create. He thought of everything BEFORE He created it.

24 When there were no depths I was brought forth,
When there were no fountains abounding with water.
25 Before the mountains were settled,
Before the hills, I was brought forth;
26 While as yet He had not made the earth or the fields,
Or the primal dust of the world.
27 When He prepared the heavens, I was there,
When He drew a circle on the face of the deep,
28 When He established the clouds above,
When He strengthened the fountains of the deep,
29 When He assigned to the sea its limit,
So that the waters would not transgress His command,
When He marked out the foundations of the earth,

The last verses for today, picture God as a “Master Craftsman” that was filled with “delight” each day as He lovingly created a world that He PLANNED to be, eventually, inhabited by men and the sons of men… These verses end by telling us that God’s “delight was with the sons of men.”

30 Then I was beside Him as a master craftsman;
And I was daily His delight,
Rejoicing always before Him,
31 Rejoicing in His inhabited world,
And my delight was with the sons of men.