Insights from Proverbs 27

iron sharpens iron

Insights from Proverbs 27 for the 27th:

Verse 17 is one of my Life verses: “As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”

This verse has served me well. When I have a dilemma or strife, I seek wise counsel. I hope you have someone you can go to for direction. If not, pray that God would put someone like that to pour into your life.

Iron sharpening iron is such a vivid and accurate metaphor. I envision a blacksmith hammering away on his anvil; FORGING. Or a butcher sharpening his blades; HONING.

The purpose of course is to be sharper, more efficient, and of better use for the Maker.

The literal translation says a man sharpens “the face of his friend.” Words can do that; change a person’s actual countenance. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide your mouth.

LISTEN WELL.

We influence each other; for good or for bad. Therefore, be careful who you listen to & who’s advice you let into your heart.

Insights from Proverbs 24

Silhouette of helping hand between two climber

Insights from Proverbs 24 for the 24th:

One of the most convicting sentiments in all of Proverbs is found in 24:11-12.

“Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, ‘But we knew nothing about this,’ does not He who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not He who guards your life know it? Will He not repay each person according to what he has done?”

God guards all life.

He hears the millions of tiny voices that are prematurely aborted. He knows the hopelessness of those enslaved in sex-trafficking. He sees the tragedies resulting from racism. He laments all the lost marching straight into Hell via atheism or false religions.

God guards all life and He has entrusted us to act as His agents!

Rescue is the word that’s used; deliver, defend, pluck, snatch them away! They are heading toward slaughter! RESCUE THEM!

We cannot see social injustice and do nothing (or worse: claim ignorance). We cannot see the lost and not share the Gospel with them. We are compelled! (1 Cor. 9:16)

We may fool each other (or even ourselves), but we cannot fool He who weighs the heart.

Like I said; very convicting couple of verses.

Please read them for yourself. And also – Take your time. Wrestle with them. Savor them. They are so great. I hope that you do.

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Ref: http://biblehub.com/hebrew/5337.htm

Insights from Proverbs 20

knocked off your high horse

Insights from Proverbs 20 for the 20th:

This is probably not going to be very popular, but it ain’t wrong either…

Verse 1 is a warning about strong drink. Solomon calls it a mocker and a brawler. Being led by the bottle is not wise. We’ve all seen (or done) things under the influence that would not have been seen (or done) had it not been for that drink! Think of all the mistakes, accidents, & fights that could be erased if alcohol were not involved.

Solomon then drops a barrage of truth-bombs:

  • Don’t provoke,
  • Don’t fight,
  • Don’t be lazy,
  • and Don’t cheat (mentioned twice!).

But also – don’t worry, Verse 9 says nobody’s perfect. Can I get an Amen?

How about this one: don’t gossip or go around blabbing! If someone begins a conversation by looking around, lowering their voice, and then saying “Well, they told me not to tell, but…” – Look out, man.

20’s modern translation = Treat yo mama with respect.

29a. If you’re young, your glory is in your strength (ambition & endurance).

29b. If you’re old, your splendor is in your gray hair (experience & wisdom).

29c. Hey, what if you are in the middle: Still strong, but also getting gray? 🙂

The last verse says every once in awhile life is going to give you a pretty solid beat down. But that’s OK; it builds character. Sure, it hurts – but it also removes evil. It knocks us off our high horse when we get too big for our britches. Haven’t you ever watched a kid who was misbehaving & thought, “You know what that kid needs? That kid needs a good… some discipline.” Come on now. Be honest. Its like that.

Like I said: not popular, but not wrong either.

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Insights from Proverbs 19

bowing

Insights from Proverbs 19 for the 19th:

I love verse 22: “What is desired in a man is kindness,” isn’t that about the truth? If kindness is present, so many other things will be too; compassion, mercy, and empathy. Its hard to be kind and a jerk at the same time.

The overwhelming theme of Proverbs 19 is retribution; evil will not go unpunished. Although it may appear that the wicked succeed, it only appears that way. God will repay all and justice will come. If not in this world, then in the one to come (Heb. 9:27).

This is a comforting promise. A common question/objection I get is why do bad things happen to good people and good things happen to the bad? The rich get richer & the poor get poorer.

Well, first of all; nobody is “good.” We are all bad (Rom. 3:23). Yes, even you. EVERYONE is in need of a Savior. If not, God made a colossal blunder in offering His Son to die on Calvary and God is not in the blunder-making business (Gal. 2:21).

Second of all, things aren’t always what they seem. No one knows what goes on behind closed doors except those who live there. Success is measured in way more than dollars.

Lastly, God has the final say. He is just and His ruling will be nothing but (Psa. 25:8). We will be totally satisfied in His perfect verdict.

“The fear of the Lord leads to life, And he who has it will abide in satisfaction,” (v.23).

Fearing the Lord is the beginning of understanding (Psa. 9:10). Without that fear, one cannot even BEGIN TO UNDERSTAND! It leads to life. That fear is reverential.

We bow in awe for God is awesome.

The closer you get to God, the more aware you are of His much-ness and your little-ness. That is not a crippling awareness; it is a comforting one. Abide in it and you will be fully satisfied. Reject it and you will be forever starving.

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Insights from Proverbs 18

strong tower

Insights from Proverbs 18 for the 18th:

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it & are safe (v.10).”

I have become increasingly sensitive to taking the Lord’s name in vain. Our culture is so flippant with OMG. Its like nails on a chalkboard to me. The name of the Lord is important. It’s a strong tower. We run to it. It protects it. Let us not become callous to it’s misuse.

“Death & life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit (v.21).”

We can speak life or speak death. That is tremendous power. More than we know. Be extremely cautious with that responsibility.

“He who finds a wife finds a good thing, And obtains favor from the Lord (v.22).”

A good thing is a God thing. Robert Morris tells the story of a man who called his wife, “Good thing.” She was his good thing from the Lord. If you have found your good thing, thank the Lord & do your best to let her know how much you appreciate her. If you’ve yet to find your good thing, serve the Lord until you do. Then serve the Lord together.

My Good thing is the best thing that ever happened to me.

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Insights from Proverbs 17

hot-n-ready

Insights from Proverbs 17 for the 17th:

Proverbs 17 has a pulse to it. It beats like the heart of one who’s wronged and who’s also been wronged. That about includes us all, doesn’t it?

Solomon draws a clear line in the sand. Anyone who: mocks the poor, listens to lies, seeks only rebellion, rewards evil for good, justifies the wicked, condemns the just, loves transgression, punishes the righteous, or hits those who stand for uprightness are obviously on the wrong side of the ethical divide.

Multiple times he mentions a wayward child causing shame & sorrow (v. 2, 21, & 25), but there is also a tender counter verse about grandchildren being a man’s crown & the father being the glory of their children (6).

We know that there are 3 BIG M’s which require our constant diligence: Our Mind, Money, & Mouth. Proverbs 17 has 7 blatant warnings about that tricky little dictator; our mouth (v. 4, 7, 9, 10, 20, & 27-28). My favorite are the last two which basically say that if you have nothing smart to say, its smart to say nothing! ZIP IT!

Let me give verse one a contemporary spin: Better is a Hot-n-Ready with no drama, than caviar & champagne with a hot mess. Man, I have like zero tolerance for those reality shows with the filthy rich just being totally ridiculous. Why is this on TV? Why not follow some people around who are actually doing good in this world? Solomon’s point is just because they have nicer stuff, doesn’t mean they have a nicer life. Mo money, mo problems.

Ever see a dam holding back all that water? Imagine seeing a little crack with water springing out: that’s the beginning of a fight. Patch it early before it all comes crashing down & floods everything (v. 14).

Ever watch Band of Brothers? That’s verse 17.

Your thoughts affect your body. Make them merry or it will literally rot you from the inside out (v. 22).

Proverbs suddenly seems awfully relevant, doesn’t it? That’s because God’s truth never changes even though our culture does.

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Insights from Proverbs 15 & 16

Insights from Proverbs 15 & 16 for the 15th & the 16th:

Reading over chapters 15 & 16, I kept thinking… well, #1. I can’t summarize this and do it justice and #3. I would be robbing people by doing so. But also #2: Why don’t they use Proverbs for like… I don’t know: job training, or a requirement for graduation in High School, or part of the citizenship process? I know that’s far-fetched, but if people actually knew these verses and applied them – our country would be safer, smarter, and more compassionate.

Its just basic steps on How to be a Hero and not a Villain.

If we took Proverbs to heart, we would be a nation of more wise co-workers, students, and parents. A nation of more compassionate leaders, laborers, and decision-makers. A nation of more better human beings. I know that is not proper English, but you know what I mean; We would all be more better.

I do want to point out a couple of verses:

“The eyes of the Lord are in every place, Keeping watch on the evil and the good.” – 15:3

This verse gives me deep peace.

“A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” – 16:9

I have this verse written on a Post-It on my computer. I read it every single day.

“Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.” – 16:18

A constant reminder to Check yo’self before you Wreck yo’self.

“Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.” – 16:24

Words have the power to heal or hurt, how are you using yours?

“The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, If it is found in the way of righteousness.” – 16:31

That’s right; as one who is getting more & more gray hair every day: I CLAIM THIS VERSE IN JESUS NAME!

🙂

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Insights from Proverbs 12

mary

Insights from Proverbs 12 for the 12th:

You know when the Bible says that someone is flat out “stupid” who does “X,” I tend to pay close attention to that X. Proverbs 12 opens with such a warning:

Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid (v.1).

Hey, no one likes to be corrected, but to hate it? That’s just not smart.

Stupid is the Hebrew word ba’ar. It means “to consume by burning or eating.” Its the image of a child throwing a temper tantrum or one who spitefully stuffs their face with food they don’t even like just so no one else gets any. What a baby!

Solomon is really saying that it’s the sign of someone who is immature.

There are many other striking images in Proverbs 12. I’m not going to go over all of them. I recommend reading them for yourself.

Among them are:

  • How an excellent wife is the crown of her husband (v.4).
  • A tender verse for animal lovers (v.10).
  • The power of words (v.18-22).
  • Warnings about laziness (v.24, 27).
  • The importance of choosing your friends wisely (v.26).

Take your time with these. Read them nice and slowly.

And try not to throw any temper tantrums today.

(Yes, that is Mary at one. Yes, it is my very favorite picture of her. I call it, “The Magnificent.”)


Ref: (ba’ar) http://biblehub.com/hebrew/1197.htm

Insights from Proverbs 10

Reeses-Minis

Insights from Proverbs 10 for the 10th:

Proverbs 10 is a rapid-fire string of moral contrasts. It’s like reading a bunch of fortune cookies all at once.

Solomon presents these pearls of wisdom in an A-B pattern:

  • A is the righteous way to do something.
  • B is the unrighteous way to do that thing.
  • A results in an easier, better life.
  • B results in a harder, worse life.

For example (paraphrased, of course):

  • A wise son makes a parent happy. A foolish son is a pain in the neck (v.1).
  • The memory of the righteous is perfume. The name of the unrighteous will rot (v. 7).
  • The words of the righteous are a spring of life. The words of the wicked are violence (v. 11).

These sayings are designed to be pithy and therefore – easy to remember. They have this tendency to worm into your brain and lodge themselves there. Then they show up in your thoughts & conversation. Its a brilliant technique, really – and one that the advertising world has exploited quite well.

The point is, Solomon is trying to impart profound, life-changing advice as efficiently and effectively as possible… to a teenager. What better way then by catchy one-liners? Rather than overloading the kid with heavy & dull lectures on Ethics, Solomon succeeds by creating these fun nuggets of wisdom in handy bite-size chunks.

Do you know them?

Insights from Proverbs 8 & 9

wisdom_and_folly

Insights from Proverbs 8 & 9 for the 8th & 9th:

Combining chapters 8 & 9 worked out for me not only because of the Sabbath, but also because these two Proverbs sort of go together; one is about Wisdom & the other is about Folly. Both are personified as women standing by the city gates calling out to passersby.

Lady Wisdom pleads for all to listen to her. Madam Folly does the same. Its a duel; a sales pitch for our very souls.

Lady Wisdom gives beautiful & eloquent arguments: seek her more than silver (with her you will find silver in the long run anyways), kings make laws that are just because of her, and whoever seeks her, will find her.

She then gives her resume; she was there when the earth was created (and well before), she was the craftsman at God’s side – this job filled her with delight day after day (to see God create). She rejoiced with God at the world He had made and at the people. She offers a blessing to whoever loves her. She closes her argument saying that whoever does not seek her, harms themselves and to hate her, is to love death.

Enter loud Madam Folly. She is a brash, crude, and insulting Siren: “If you are stupid, come on in here!” (v. 16, CEV) She spits seductive lies: “Stolen water is sweet. Food eaten in secret is delicious” (a metaphor for adultery). She reminds me of that restaurant at the beach where the waiters and waitresses insult you. Some people actually like that. Matthew Henry says Madam Folly is, “very violent and pressing.” She sets traps & snares. She drags her net to scoop up her catch.

Her path literally leads to the grave. Those who are on it, do not even know that they are dead already. M. Night Shyamalan may need to pay Solomon a royalty check.

The bottom line here is that it is a choice. Wisdom & Folly can only offer the path, we must pick one. You cannot straddle both. They go in different directions.

Which path do you choose?


Ref: http://biblehub.com/proverbs/9-17.htm