Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Proverbs 11: 18 Deceit vs. Rightousness

Proverbs 11: 18 (NKJV)

18 The wicked man does deceptive work,
But he who sows righteousness will have a sure reward.

As we have seen before, a “wicked” man is characterized by traits such as evilness and maliciousness. They are highly offensive and obnoxious, while a “righteous” man’s traits are morality, being virtuous, and being without guilt, or sinless.

The online dictionary defines “deceptive” as: causing one to believe what is NOT true or, to fail to believe what IS true. To purposely deceive someone.

The definition that is given for the word, “sow” is: 1. To scatter over the ground for growing. 2. To spread with seed. 3. To strew something around or over an area 4. To propagate or disseminate (as information)

The word “sure” is defined as: 1. Impossible to doubt or dispute; certain. 2. Confident, as of something awaited or expected 3. Bound to come about or happen; inevitable

Putting these definitions together lets us understand that today’s verse means that malicious, obnoxious people go around purposely deceiving others. We have seen, in past verses, what happens to “wicked” men like this, while people who spread, or disseminate, information that leads to morality, virtue, and a way to be saved from sin can be certain that they WILL receive a reward.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Proverbs 11: 17 Mercifulness vs. Cruelty

Today’s verse shows the contrast in the lives and happiness between people who are merciful to others and those who are cruel.

Proverbs 11: 17 (NKJV)

17 The merciful man does good for his own soul,
But he who is cruel troubles his own flesh.

Here are the definitions of the main words in this verse:

merciful: 1. giving relief from pain or suffering: 2. showing or giving mercy; compassionate

good: 1. Being positive or desirable in nature 3. Of high quality 4. Worthy of respect; honorable 5. Beneficial to health 6. Reliable; sure, valid or true, genuine; real 7. Pleasant; enjoyable, propitious; favorable
8. Of moral excellence; upright, benevolent; kind, loyal; staunch 9. Well-behaved; obedient

soul : 1. The animating and vital principle in humans, credited with the faculties of thought, action, and emotion and often conceived as an immaterial entity. 2. The spiritual nature of humans, regarded as immortal, separable from the body at death, and susceptible to happiness or misery in a future state.
3. A person's emotional or moral nature

cruel: 1. Disposed to inflict pain or suffering. 2. Causing suffering; painful
1. A state of distress, affliction, difficulty, or need 2. A distressing or difficult circumstance or situation 3. A cause or source of distress, disturbance, or difficulty 4. A condition of pain, disease, or malfunction

Using these definitions, we can see that those that are compassionate toward others and do things like finding ways to help relieve pain or suffering, will cause their inner most beings – their thoughts, actions, and emotions- their very “natures” to become positive or desirable according to God's Word. They will also be blessed by God.

These people will be considered to be of high quality, worthy of respect, and honorable by others. These characteristics tend to be very beneficial to people’s health because those that are reliable, genuine, pleasant, enjoyable, favorable, morally excellent, benevolent, kind, loyal, well-behaved, and obedient are well liked and often, will be treated in kind, thereby having less stress in their lives.

In contrast, a person who tends to inflict pain or cause suffering, will find themselves in a "state of distress," affliction, difficulty or need. Distressing and difficult circumstances or situations will tend to follow them because God’s principles of “You reap what you sow…” will come into play in their lives.

A cruel person, will constantly be “stressed out,” and will end up suffering pain and disease in their own bodies as the malfunction of their souls extend into their bodies. So many recent studies have shown that the more stress a person is under, and the longer the period of time that person is under a lot of stress, the more their bodies malfunction, causing lowered immunities and more disease.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Proverbs 11: 16 Graciousness vs. Ruthlessness

As I read today’s verse. I was dismayed at what MY understanding came up with. The second part of the verse sounded like it totally went against the things that God teaches, so I decided to look up each of the important words so that I would be able to get a complete understanding of the meanings behind the words that upset me. First, let’s read the verse:

Proverbs 11: 16 (NKJV)

16 A gracious woman retains honor,
But ruthless men retain riches.

The word, “gracious” has the root word of “grace” which is defined as: 1. A disposition to be generous or helpful; goodwill; To show mercy or clemency. 2. A favor rendered by one who need not do so 3. (Christian theology) a state of sanctification by God; the state of one who is under God’s divine influence.

The word “gracious,” itself, means: 1. To be characterized by: kindness, warm courtesy, tact, propriety, charm or beauty; gracefulness, elegance and good taste 2. To be of a merciful or compassionate nature. 3. (Archaic meaning) Enjoying favor or grace; acceptable or pleasing. These characteristics fit the example, at the end of Proverbs, of the “perfect” woman in God’s sight where it also says that this woman will be honored.

The word “retains” means: 1. To maintain possession of 2. To keep or hold 3. To keep in mind; remember.

The word, “honor” is defined as: 1. High respect, as that shown for special merit; esteem: 2. Good name; reputation. 3. Glory or recognition; distinction.

Our last main word in this verse is “ruthless” which means: Having no compassion or pity; merciless: without mercy or pity; "a monster of remorseless cruelty"

The first part of our verse says that a woman (or person) that shows compassion, mercy, gentleness, courtesy, and tact, even when they don’t HAVE TO, will enjoy favor and be acceptable or pleasing to God. Someone with these traits will keep in mind, or hold onto, their good name and reputation. People will recognize them them by giving them a LOT of respect. An excellant example of a person like this was Mother Theresa.

Think of those people who have shown these qualities that you know, and how you feel about that person. This would be something I would want to strive for in MY life because I want people to see God’s work in my life.

The second part of this verse is what caused me to be confused because, through a cursory reading, it seemed to say that you need to be “ruthless,” or "a monster of remorseless cruelty," that has NO compassion, pity or mercy toward people if you want to be rich. If you look further, though, at the verse, it says these types of people will RETAIN their riches. They will NOT share them or use them to help others, no matter how badly it is needed.

I came to see that God was “reporting” on what happens in this world. By remembering so many of the rest of the verses that we have been studying in Proverbs, I know that those “riches” are doing NOTHING for the soul of that person. He would have NO peace, love or joy in his heart, for you only get those by giving them away to others. An example of this was Hitler who ended up going mad and killing himself.

I also remembered that several of the verses that we have studied essentially were “boiled down” by Christ into these words in Mark 8:36 -- For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Proverbs 11: 15 Beware of Signing for Other’s Debts

Proverbs 11: 15 (NKJV)

15 He who is surety for a stranger will suffer,
But one who hates being surety is secure.

The definition of “surety” is: 1. a person who takes legal responsibility for the fulfillment of another's debt or obligation 2. security given as a guarantee that an obligation will be met.

This verse warns us that becoming responsible for someone else’s debt is not very wise. It gives the impression that IF you should even think about doing this for someone, you should be very sure that you know that person VERY well. If you don’t, you are taking a big chance and you should understand that this can cause all kinds of problems between you and the person that you are trying to help.

I would tend to think that if a “stranger” would even ask a person that they didn’t know, to do something like this for them, then it would be likely that they would be trying to take advantage of that person.

The second part of this verse seems to imply that “hating” to be in that type of situation is actually being very wise, and this kind of wisdom will cause the person to be secure in their own financial dealings.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Proverbs 11: 14 The Need for Counsel

Proverbs 11: 14 (NKJV)

14 Where there is no counsel, the people fall;
But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

Counsel: 1. The act of exchanging opinions and ideas; consultation. 2. Advice or guidance, especially as solicited from a knowledgeable person. 3. A plan of action. 4. Private, guarded thoughts or opinions: 5. A lawyer or group of lawyers giving legal advice and especially conducting a case in court.

Counselors: 1. A person who gives counsel; an adviser. 2. An attorney, especially a trial lawyer.

In the Jewish culture, as we have seen before, the elders and wise men of the community would gather at the gates or certain special places in the towns and cities to discuss important matters. Often the younger men (Jewish men were considered to be “men” after their bar mitzvah at age 13) would come to learn by listening to the elder’s discussions. This is one of the main ways that they would learn.

With this type of cultural life, the young person would learn how wise it was to listen to or “take counsel” from older, more knowledgable people around them. They would see that those that despised listening to, and learning from, these leaders would cause people to have many problems and fall into many of life’s “traps.” Conversely, those that do mingle with, and learn from, the wise, will make wise decisions.

We need to understand that when we have problems or big decisions to make, we should step back and find someone who is proficient in that type of problem or decision, and consult with them. It would be wise to discuss the various points, so that we will be able to make informed decisions before we make our plan of action. We should beware of trying to figure out “big things” without taking “counsel,” for God says that could cause us to “fall.”

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Proverbs 11: 13 Gossip vs. A Faithful Spirit

Proverbs 11: 13 (NKJV)

13 A talebearer reveals secrets,
But he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.

A “talebearer” is defined as “one who spreads malicious stories or gossip,” and the definition of the adjective, “faithful” is: 1. Adhering firmly and devotedly, as to a person, cause, or idea; loyal. 2. Having or full of faith. 3. Worthy of trust or belief; reliable. 4. Consistent with truth or actuality. To “conceal” means to 1. to cover and hide 2. to keep secret.

With these definitions, we can see that this verse warn us not to trust people who “gossip” or “spread malicious stories” about others. If we DO choose to trust someone like that, it would be very foolish, for they will NOT keep the secrets that we have entrusted to them, but will reveal them to others in ways that will cause harm.

Conversely, we need to choose our friends carefully to be sure that they have a “faithful spirit,” for then we can be sure that they will be loyal, reliable, and truthful. These types of friends can be trusted to hold our secrets in the strictest confidence.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Proverbs 11: 12 Neighborhood relationships

Note: Sorry I skipped a day… it was hubby’s and my 34th wedding anniversary and I played hooky over the weekend from writing my blogs… :)

Today’s proverb is one that speaks of neighborhood relationships, and the wise way to handle them.

Proverbs 11: 12 (NKJV)

12 He who is devoid of wisdom despises his neighbor,
But a man of understanding holds his peace.

First, let’s look at the definitions of the main words. The Online Dictionary gives the definition of the word, “devoid” as:
Completely lacking; destitute or empty… and the definition of the word, “despises” as: 1. To regard with contempt or scorn 2. To dislike intensely; loathe 3. To regard as unworthy of one's interest or concern:

This verse, then, speaks of those that are completely lacking in wisdom and the fact that they tend to have no interest or concern for their neighbors. Throughout God’s word, His purpose is to draw people together in love and care for each other. We see that He feels that someone who doesn’t care about others is lacking in His wisdom.

The end of the verse goes on to tell us that “a man of understanding,” which we have seen in other studies in this book is a description of a “righteous man,” will “hold his peace…” Generally when THIS phrase is used, it means that person will hold his tongue or be very careful in the way that he handles situations. He will be in control of himself and his reactions to the problems that come up, and handle them in ways that God would lead him in. This, in turn, will lead to healing instead of further strife.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Proverbs 11: 10 & 11 People Reflect on Their Municipalities

The type of people in a town, city or even a country, will give that “municipality” a specific reputation. Today’s verses touch on this topic.

Proverbs 11: 10 & 11 (NKJV)
10 When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices; And when the wicked perish, there is jubilation.
11 By the blessing of the upright, the city is exalted, But it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.

First, let’s look at the definitions of the main words, that we haven’t studied before, in these verses:
city: A center of population, commerce, and culture
2. perish: To die or be destroyed, especially in a violent or untimely manner
3. jubilation: a feeling of great joy and celebration
4. exalted : Elevated in rank, character, or status.
5. overthrown : To bring about the downfall or destruction of…

Both of our verses today start with the effects that people that are righteous and upright, have on helping a city to prosper. These people follow God and/or His wise ways and their lives will be blessed because of it. When the righteous are blessed (“when it goes well with…” AND when they are receiving “blessings”) then the city or area that they live in will also be blessed because they will have more to spend, and more ways to help their neighbors. We have seen examples of this principle before in our United States history, when our country was blessed because we had a morally based society… one that was basically based on a Judeo-Christian heritage. We became one of the strongest, most blessed, AND most giving countries in the world.

Over the past 50 or so years, we have seen things turn around and start to go downhill. As the ratio of those that follow righteous, moral lives compared to those that are following wicked ways, tip the other way, our cities, towns and society in general are having more and more problems.

Verse 10 tells us that when the “wicked perish,” there is “jubilation.” Think about the celebrations that occurred when Saddam Hussein’s reign was overthrown to get a good picture of the truth of this verse.

The last part of verse 11 says that cities are “overthrown” by the mouth (or words) of the wicked. We have seen this on a small scale with the gangs pushing each other to do things that continually grow worse, and we have seen it on a large scale through the words of Adolf Hitler that ended in a World War.

We have even seen examples in the past year or so of whole cities and towns that are perishing and being foreclosed on because of the lies of wicked, greedy men that gave loans to so many when they really couldn’t afford it.

Our lives DO make a difference to those who live round us, and we need to be sure that they see the effects of God’s love and work in our lives, for that may be the only way they will ever think about learning about God.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Proverbs 11: 9 Hypocrisy

Today’s verse covers the problems that neighbors can have when one or more of them have a problem with hypocrisy.

Proverbs 11: 9 (NKJV)

9 The hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor,
But through knowledge the righteous will be delivered.

The Thesaurus on the Free Online Dictionary
gives these definitions of a hypocrite – 1. A person who professes beliefs and opinions that he or she does not hold in order to conceal his or her real feelings or motives 2. A person who is inwardly evil but outwardly professes to be virtuous 3. Someone who leads you to believe something that is not true.

These types of people live on lying and gossip, and the words that come from their mouths, can cause great harm and even destruction to those around them. In contrast, those that are lead by the Spirit of God through knowledge of His Word and His Ways can find ways to extricate themselves from the webs of lies the hypocrite has woven for them. Their character and the ways that they have lived will show others which one is telling the truth and which is lying.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Proverbs 11: 7 & 8 Results of Wickedness

Our two verses for today give more examples of the results of following a path of “wickedness,” and where it will lead…

Proverbs 11: 7 & 8 (NKJV)

7 When a wicked man dies, his expectation will perish,
And the hope of the unjust perishes.
8 The righteous is delivered from trouble,
And it comes to the wicked instead.

Way back in March when we were in Chapter 1, we looked at the way Jewish poetry is written. I thought it might be a good idea to review that information again for anyone new that may have joined us recently, as it helps us understand the book of Proverbs better.

The structure of Hebrew poetry is called “parallelism or intensification.” This means that the lines of each verse are parallel in some way and the second line intensifies or “concentrates” the meaning of the first one… if there is a third line, then the idea is even more powerful.

There are 4 main different types of parallelism. Sometimes the first and second lines are sort of the same, and the first just adds more emphasis to the second as in today’s first verse: “When a wicked man dies, his expectation will perish, and the hope of the unjust perishes.”

Sometimes, the second line is an illustration of the OPPOSITE of the first line, which enhances the meaning by doing something like illustrating a point from another angle as seen in the second verse of today’s study: “The righteous is delivered from trouble, and it comes to the wicked instead.”

Another type of parallelism paints a word picture to get the point across like we saw in the word pictures painted in the story of the grasshopper and the ant. The last type, continues the same thought in the second line as was introduced in the first, intensifying the idea presented, such as Prov. 1:19 which says, “Such is the end of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the lives of those who get it.”

Verse 7 tells us that the expectations and hopes of those that are wicked or unjust will perish. The online Dictionary give this as a definition of the word “expectiation:” something looked forward to, whether feared or hoped for. It gives the definition of the word “hope” as being, “A wish or desire accompanied by confident expectation of its fulfillment.”

With these definitions, we can see that the “wicked” or “unjust” will die sooner or later, and when they do, they will have nothing to look forward too being fulfilled. There will be no hope or expectation of seeing Heaven, for these people. Verse 8 goes on to say that they will receive the trouble that the people that follow God will be delivered from. We need to ask ourselves if we want to have God on our side to deliver us from trouble by following His ways and His righteousness that He gives freely, or if we would rather not follow God and lose all hope of any kind.