Proverbs 3:11-12 Guidance + Correction=Direction

Proverbs 3:11-12 tells us that we should not disdain the Lord’s instruction or be resentful about his reproach, because his discipline comes from a place of love and concern for us, like loving and caring parents correct and guide their children.

Correction is a natural part of guidance. If we don’t even know that we are off course, let alone how we got there, how can we ever hope to change direction? By listening to the voice of wisdom, we receive God’s guidance and accept his direction. Resenting his correction would be akin to begrudging the GPS for a course correction after we’ve missed our turn. Wisdom is God’s GPS for our lives, and his reproach is the voice that tells us that we’ve gotten off course and need to recalculate our route. Sometimes reprimand is the hardest part of the lessons God has set forth for us to learn, but correction is the better part of discipline, and the dedication to discipline is what gives us accomplishment.
~SLM

Proverbs 3:9-10 The Notion of Fruits

Proverbs 3:9-10 is a study in giving and receiving; verse 9 covers the giving, and 10 the getting. In a previous post, I learned that a part of being wise is the consideration of getting what you give, of reaping what you sew, and it seems to me that verses 9-10 are a confirmation of this. So we begin with the contemplation of the notion of fruits, first fruits to be specific.

These verses are closely linked with the concept of tithing, of giving of one’s prosperity, one’s wealth. Verse 9 states:” Honor the Lord with thy substance, and give him of the first of all thy fruits:” What exactly are first fruits? Are they the very first red, ripe and juicy tomatoes we pick from the vine, are they the payment we receive for our daily labors, or are they more esoteric concepts? It occurs to me that the idea applies to so much more than just money, and I would argue that our “first fruits” are all of the above. The word substance implies your talents, your time, your knowledge, your love, and If we truly believe that all things come from God, that we are merely the stewards of his gifts, and if we are to honor God with the best part of our riches, then without doubt these things are meant to be given too. Surely we are meant to be generous with all that we are given.

Verse 10 states: “And thy barns shall be filled with abundance, and thy presses shall run over with wine.” So, the concept of paying it forward comes from God. If we want our lives to be filled to overflowing, then we must first share what we have been given. We must give joyously and willingly in the full knowledge and trust that God will bless us greatly for our efforts.

~SLM

Proverbs 3:1-8 It’s a Matter of Trust

At first glance, this chapter seemed to me a repeat of the first 2, a rehashing of the concepts previously discussed. I’m not fond of covering ground twice, so I glanced ahead a few chapters, and I discovered that chapters 1-10 cover a lot of the same principles. I consider myself a reasonably intelligent girl, and I’m not opposed to expounding on a theme, but, on the surface, the reiteration looked rather excessive to me, and had this been a novel, I’d have stopped right there. But this is not a novel, and I have committed myself to this study. I wondered what could be so important. There must be a reason that Solomon found it necessary to repeatedly stress the concepts of faith, love, and the fear of the Lord. I decided to take another tack.

I find that writing verses in my own words can provide insight into their meaning. So I set about writing the verses, praying over their meaning, asking to be given awareness, knowledge, and comprehension of their deeper meaning. And then I slept on it, as is my habit when I’m really engrossed in trying to understand.

This morning, it dawned on me (quite literally, in fact), it’s a matter of trust. Verses 5-6 cover trust, and what my closer look showed me is that until you really, really get the concepts of faith, obedience, love and “fear of the Lord” embedded into your very being, it’s very hard to really, really trust. When we’re children, it’s so easy to trust, but as we grow and mature, we tend to get the trust “experienced” right out of us. We learn to be skeptical, suspicious, and faithless. We have to get the ideas expressed in verses 1-4 so ingrained in us that they are “written on our hearts, as if they are written on stone,” before we can move on to trust. Verses 3-4 are about love and faithfulness, but before love and faithfulness, we have to learn to keep the teachings of wisdom, the commandments of God, which must first be written on our hearts.

Verses 1-2 look more closely at wisdom’s teaching. It’s through the keeping of God’s commands, by writing them on our hearts, that we can remember the teachings of wisdom, and by following wisdom’s guidance, we can live long and prosperous lives. Such a simple concept: Live by God’s commandments, remember them, write them on your heart, and by doing this you open yourself to God’s wisdom, and opening ourselves to wisdom enables us to practice discernment, helping us to consider who we associate with, and how we can live honestly and fairly. Living this way leads to prosperity, not just physical prosperity, but more importantly spiritual prosperity, brought to us through love and faithfulness.

Verses 3-4, to me, convey a very good description of what Christian thought is all about – Love and Faithfulness. They are core concepts and you should be so attached to them that you and they are inseparable, that they become second nature to you, that you express them in everything you do. They are an outcropping of keeping God’s commands and the remembrance of wisdom’s teaching, a natural result listening to the voice of wisdom. By showing love and faithfulness in everything you do, you will find favor with God, and be held in good esteem with him, and by your friends, acquaintances, and mankind.

And all this leads to trust. It’s all about trust. Trust God with all your heart, with all your being. What does this mean? I think that it means to be able to say “Lord, I know you see this situation, and while I have no idea how it could ever resolve itself, I know that you do, and I’m putting the ball in your court, you take, because I know and have faith that you can and will provide for it and work it out according to your plan.”

And, after all that, verses 7-8 warn us about the importance of keeping our own greatness in perspective. It reminds us that we shouldn’t think too much of our own genius, because when we get caught up in our own idea of how brilliant we are, we are usually setting ourselves up for a little slice of “humble pie.” We should reverence the source of our “wisdom” and give credit where credit is due. By humbly acknowledging that we are merely the channel for God’s spirit, we bring sustenance and strength to our very beings.

It’s funny how, when you really take the time to study something, how much more that can be seen, than when you make only a cursory glance, like seeing the individual threads in the tapestry, and how they work together to make a complete picture, an image that would not appear the same, if just one of the threads were only slightly different.

I guess I had a lot to say about it afterall! 🙂
~SLM

A Prayer for Proverbs 2

Lord God, awesome and holy, let wisdom be my constant companion. Help me to recognize ther voice and to heed her advice. Bless me with the patience to listen with my heart and to understand what is true and fair, so that I may live honestly in the full-flower of your knowledge. Amen.
~SLM

Proverbs 2 What Wisdom Offers

Proverbs 2 is a discourse on why it’s important to seek insight. It begins by advising that we should “take to heart” the counsels of God and make them a priority in our lives by keeping our ears tuned to the voice of wisdom. Insight and understanding are precious and rare, and we should look for it as one would search for hidden treasures. If we take to heart every day the will of God, seeking his advice, as if it were the most precious thing we could possess, it is then that we will realize his awesome power and be filled with reverence and respect for the fullness of his knowledge.
God is the source of wisdom, and He gives it freely to those who keep him in their hearts. He takes care of those who seek his counsel and pays close attention to them in all they do. All we need is a sincere desire to look for truth and understanding, to live our lives honestly, committed to Him. He is a deep well, a rich mine of common sense and good advice. By listening to God we can know what is true and fair. We can find our way, because wisdom will be our constant companion, knowledge our friend, good sense and insight our guide. They will warn us of those who would steer us onto roads that go nowhere, and keep us from being seduced by the empty promises of a wayward world.
It concludes with the promise that wisdom will help us to do what is good and right, and that if we “walk in the way of good men,” we’ll live a life that is full and blessed.
~SLM

Proverbs 1:20-33 When Wisdom Speaks…

This portion of Proverbs 1 conjures up such mental images for me. I’m reminded of the scene in The Matrix, where Neo wants to run, and Trinity opens the car door and tells him he’s free to go. The camera pans toward the open door, and a long dark road can be seen through the pouring rain. As they both look toward the deserted road, Trinity says, “is this what you really want Neo? You’ve been down that road before, and we both know where it ends.”

Even though the scene in the movie is a dark and deserted street, I see a correlation with the description in verses 20-23. I can just see wisdom standing at the end of a bustling street, shouting for all she’s worth…”listen, listen to me.  Don’t do it, don’t go there, you won’t like the result! Turn back now, while there’s still time! Listen, LISTEN!”  And, as the people all rush past her, they look at her as if she’s totally lost her mind and her insanity is a contagious disease that they might contract by being near her.  But later, when all of her predictions have been realized, they lament their predicament, and ask where she was when they needed her, why was she not there to help them? Both of these scenes are about choices, about listening to that inner voice that wants to “pour its heart out and make its thoughts known.” Wisdom was there all along, they just didn’t recognize her as they rushed past with a disgusted look on their faces, and they never took the time to stop, to seek, or to listen.

So this is what I think the riddle means: When seeking wisdom it’s so important to stop, to consider, and to listen.  Seek the counsel of God, of your parents, your trusted friends. So many times we rush head-long into situations, never considering the consequences of our actions, and when it all turns out wrong, we’re ready to blame anybody, everybody, but ourselves. We wonder why Wisdom (or God), seems to have abandoned us, and in reality, we never sought her out, or if we did, we didn’t heed her direction.

The chapter ends with “but he who listens to me will dwell in safety, untouched by the terror of misfortune.”  Such truth these words speak. To live a “wise” life, we must seek wise counsel, be still and listen, hear what Wisdom (AKA God) has to say about it, and do not turn from the truth because it presents itself in a form that we may not recognize.

~SLM

Proverbs 1:10-19 Who You Hang With

While reading this section of Proverbs 1, I was reminded of when I was a teenager, and I would try to persuade my mom that it was O.K. for me to do something because “everybody else was doing it,” and she’d say, “well, if so-and-so goes and jumps off a bridge, would you want to do that as well?” Thinking of it now makes me smile, and even though I didn’t appreciate the answer at the time, I certainly can now. Who you hang with says a lot about who you are, and to me these verses are a warning against a “gang” type of mentality, against acting as others act, because it’s cool, against going along blindly, before considering the consequences.

Peer pressure can sometimes be overwhelming in our society. Falling in line with everyone else, so that we may fit in, or so that we can have the things that others tell us we should have, even when we know that our actions are wrong, seems to be almost expected. But at what cost do we race after the images of an “ideal” life? Do we hurt others, and profit from their misfortunes? Are we willing to debase ourselves and take advantage of any means for fame and fortune? One thing I know for sure is that Karma’s a bad-ass, what we throw out there will most certainly be visited upon us. Verses 17-19 assure us of this, that when we are so foolish and smug in our belief that we the smartest that ever lived, we surely set a trap for ourselves, and sooner or later, the bill comes due.

We live according to the company we keep, and if we seek wisdom, we must know who we can listen to and who we should avoid.

It’s amazing to me how simple truths that were recorded thousands of years ago still are relevant today.

~SLM