Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Solomon Says...

Proverbs 31:

The last chapter is here. Perhaps the most famous chapter in all of Proverbs. A passage that describes the type of woman all men should seek. However, most women want to avoid this chapter because it seems so unattainable. I've heard some people ask, "where's the passage for the man?" We hear about the Proverbs 31 woman but where's the challenge for the man? Well, we need to remember that the intended audience is still the young man. This is not some tidbit thrown in at the end to give instruction for young women. This is the type of woman we as men should seek for as a wife. Nothing has changed, he doesn't want men settling for women that will cause them to go astray. Hold your standards very high, as women should also do in looking for a husband. The 1st 9 verses of this chapter don't get much attention, most usually jump to verse 10. The sayings of King Lemuel, like Agur, we don't really know anything about him. The 1st 9 verses are things he learned from his mother. There are 3 basic teachings, do not use your power to indulge in women, stay sober, and use your authority to defend the weak. Verses 6 & 7 seem a little odd, but the meaning is simple. If alcohol has any value it is for people in this position, but don't let yourself get this way. It's not a license to get people in tough situations drunk. He goes on to say in 8 & 9...speak up for them and defend them. 10-31 contain what has been called the Proverbs 31 woman. Again, the intended audience here is the young man. A young person needs to look long and hard at the character of the person he or she considers marrying. Sexy looks, a winning personality, and popularity are not of themselves bad, but they are not the basis for a lifelong commitment. Few things cause as much pain and regret as marrying a person of bad morals or weak character. The book of Proverbs lays out from beginning to end, the choice for the young man. The way of integrity over the way of folly. I think it is very fitting that the book ends by encouraging the young man to find a living, breathing, wise woman to share his life with.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Solomon Says...

Proverbs 30:

This chapter is credited to Agur son of Jakeh. We know absolutely nothing about him. However, I love how he starts this chapter. Verse 2 & 3, 'i am the most ignorant of men; I do not have a man's understanding. I have not learned wisdom, nor have i knowledge of the Holy One.' Agur admits that he doesn't have the answers to some of life's toughest questions. In doing this, he is able to embrace the truth that only God can give. The commandment we talked about Sunday, "Honor your father and mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you" goes along with the point of 30:17. Respect for parents is the key to learning respect for all authority. People that can't live with authority will generally live short lives. Those who honor parents can accept limits and will usually enjoy a long, peaceful life. It's what we discussed Sunday, you want to honor your parents? Live wisely.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Solomon Says...

Proverbs 29:

One of my favorite verses is in this chapter. Verse 18 "Where there is no revelation the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law." In other words, 'where there is no vision, people perish.' Think about that verse for a second in every area of your life. When you don't have a vision for your marriage, that relationship might not go the distance. Without a vision in your family, it could self destruct. When you don't have a vision for your life, your jobs will be many, but your fulfillment will be scarce. When there is no vision, it will die. Vision is the ability to see beyond today. It's not living for the moment, but living for what can be. Solomon knew this well. As the King, he would need a strong vision for the country. I think that's one reason Solomon asked God for wisdom. He realized the need for special discernment in governing a nation. God blessed him and because of that, the nation had many peaceful years under the reign of Solomon. Having a vision for each area of your life is one of the most important things we can do. It helps us decide what is important and what is a waste of our time. Knowing what to say 'no' to is one of the advantages of having a vision. When something doesn't lead us toward our vision, we have to be willing to say 'no.' That means saying 'no' to many 'good things' and saying 'yes' to the 'best things.' As Solomon has been preaching in this whole book, there are 2 paths...one leads to death and the other to life. Having a vision helps us follow the path that leads to life.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Solomon Says...

Proverbs 28:

This chapter continues on with wisdom for the future leaders of families and communities. A young man needs a few basic skills as he enters adult life. He must be able to get along with other people, especially the men in his community. Also, he must know how to read their character. And it is very important for a young man to become well equipped to provide for his family. Also, this chapter discusses the wealthy and the poor. People with wealth and privilege have a special obligation to those who have less, but the temptation is for them to abuse their power. However, if they follow the Biblical path, they are less likely to fall into this trap. There are also a few warnings in here for the rich. Verses 19-27 focus on this area. Chasing fantasies, get rich quick schemes, showing favoritism to certain people, being stingy, etc. Solomon covers all the bases.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Solomon Says...

Proverbs 27:

Chapter 27 is loaded with good stuff. Another widely quoted verse is in this chapter...(17) 'as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.' Let's break down this chapter. I think the whole point of the 1st two verses is...don't be too sure about the future or yourself. As a leader, sometimes I feel like I have to know what's going to happen tomorrow. However, it's ridiculous to think that way. We need a plan, we need direction, but tomorrow is out of our hands. Verse 5 shows the importance of open communication in relationships. 'Better is open rebuke than hidden love.' This does not mean that it is always better to rebuke or that there is never a time to be silent. The point is that we should express our love to others, and that takes honesty. The next several verses show that building and maintaining close relationships with family and friends is one of the most important things in the world. The rest of this chapter is clearly an appeal from father to son. How to follow sound business practices, how to have good relationships with men in the community, etc. He even talks about the importance of using wisdom in selecting a wife in verse 15, 16. 'restraining her is like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand.' In other words, she's out of control. She is quarrelsome, always spending money, making trouble and he can't do anything about it. This type of wife is very different than the one painted in chapter 31. The last 4 or 5 verses of the chapter seem a little strange...talking about grain, flocks, hay, goat's milk. I think the point is simply, take care of your business and your business will take of you. Again, use wisdom in life, be smart and make wise decisions...decisions that won't come back to haunt you, but bless you.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Solomon Says...

Proverbs 26:

Verse 1 is good..."like snow in summer or rain in harvest, honor is not fitting for a fool." Rain was highly treasured in ancient Israel 'and today's farmers' but if it came at the wrong time...it could do damage. In the same way, a fool who gets honor is likely to take responsibility that he cannot handle. However, snow in the summertime sounds pretty good right now...ha! According to verse 3, the rod is the only instruction a fool understands. Verse 4 & 5 seem to contradict. 4...'do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself.' 5...'answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.' So, first we don't answer a fool and then we do? (scratchin my head). This actually gives us a good example of how proverbs work. Sometimes it is wise and sometimes it is not wise to answer a fool with the same kind of emotion that the fool himself uses. Sometimes you have to speak this way to get your point across, but if you do it too much...you may become like the fool. Verses 6-10 all talk about the fool with some cool metaphors...'like a lame man's legs' (not going anywhere)...'like tying a stone in a sling' (it may sling around and hit the slinger)...'like a thorn in a drunkard's hand (loses it sting). Pretty cool stuff. The rest of the chapter talks about sluggards, busybodies & liars. The easy thing to do is think about others that fit these descriptions but the more challenging thing to do is ask..."is he describing me?"

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Solomon Says...

Proverbs 25:

As stated in the 1st verse, chapters 25-29 are a separate collection of sayings collected and edited by the scribes of Hezekiah. Hezekiah ruled Judah 716-686 B.C. Matthew lists Hezekiah in the genealogy of Jesus. Many of Jesus' teachings are simple and direct because they come straight from Proverbs. His warning about taking places of honor in Luke 14:7-11 seems to come from Proverbs 25:6,7 and His teaching on settling disputes privately in Luke 12:57-59 may be from Proverbs 25:8-10. Personal character is one of the main teachings of Proverbs. That's why Proverbs warns us about the kinds of people to avoid and the kinds of things to add to our life. Integrity, good people skills and strong character are not optional in the Christian life.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Solomon Says...

Proverbs 24:

Several different sayings of the wise fill this chapter. I think the point of verses 8 & 9 is that a bad reputation is not easy to overcome. Verses 11 & 12 just simply mean we should rescue the innocent when we are able. This chapter shows us that one result of biblical wisdom is that we become mature people. A person of character does not rejoice over the suffering of enemies, tells the truth, lives within his means, is generous but is not sucked into throwing away his money, and can love faithfully.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Solomon Says...

Proverbs 23:

The 1st 3 verses warn us of taking favors from rich and powerful people. They generally want something in exchange, and their price can be very high. Verses 4 & 5 teach us not to make becoming rich our goal in life. A prosperous life doesn't always include material wealth. There is some teaching on how to raise children in this chapter. The raising of children involves the giving of punishment and praise. To do one without the other is to give a child an unbalanced life. People always want to ask the 'alcohol' question. Can a Christian drink? Solomon shares some of his wisdom on that in this chapter...verses 20, 21 & 29-35. Alcohol, drugs, narcotics all offer brief pleasure while destroying the body. Solomon's advice is to use wisdom. Think about the end result of your actions, not the moment. As he says in verse 32...'in the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper.'

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Solomon Says...

Proverbs 22:

Wealth is not a bad thing but according to verse 1, if it comes at the expense of everyone else, it is too costly. This proverb seems to set the stage for the next few verses as they deal with wealth, poverty, prudent life, etc. Proverbs 6 - end of chapter are various sayings. Verse 6 is one of the most well-known of all. 'Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.' This proverb is not a guarantee that our children will never stray from the Biblical teachings they receive when they are young. However, if we teach our children the ways of God on their level, when they get old, it is much more likely that they will remain in the truth. Verse 7 is what Jeremy talked about this morning. 'The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is servant to the lender.' We should avoid falling into poverty because it takes away our control over our lives and gives it to someone else. This is the reason the wise try to stay out of debt. Verse 15 could be disturbing to parents that don't believe in spanking their children. We must remember that our children can't be taught on an adult level, nor can they be reasoned with on an adult level. They must receive discipline appropriate on their age level. Verse 24 is one that we mentioned a couple weeks ago during the series warning us to avoid a hot tempered man. Why? Because you run the risk of learning his ways. As people, we rub off on one another, whether we are good or bad.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Solomon Says...

Proverbs 21:

Verse 1 shows that the King is not the one in control, it is God. God controls the King. This doesn't mean every King is just, but royal power is a tool that God uses. Verses 9 & 19 both discuss the same topic. One says better to live on a corner of the roof and the other says better to live in the desert...than live with a quarrelsome wife. The point is, any situation is better than living with a quarrelsome wife. You think any of the 1,000 wives Solomon had were quarrelsome? Haha! I bet they were. Verse 14 mentions giving a gift in secret to appease an enemy. This is the idea of settling out of court...a good thing. However, verse 15 reminds us that society can function well only when justice is served. Verses 23 & 24 showcase two different types of people...those who watch what they say and those who boast. Wisdom lives in the 1st and pride lives in the 2nd. Remember, all of these proverbs written are there to help us live skillfully. That's why there are so many different topics in each chapter. We are learning God-given wisdom from Solomon. Underline and circle the ones that speak to you. We all need more wisdom...I know I sure do.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Solomon Says...

Proverbs 20:

In the first few verses we see more discussion on the mocker. He consumes large amounts of alcohol making his personality worse than it already was. Also, a mocker is someone that is always ready to get in a fight...according to verse 3. This chapter is really focusing on people of good character and people of evil character. People are not always what they seem to be and we must exercise discernment. Being discerning is not the same as being judgmental. However, we do great damage to God's church when we allow unworthy people to lead when they are not ready. We see in verse 10 (differing weights and differing measure--the Lord detests them both) that God hates dishonest scales. And verse 11 follows with the power of actions...we can talk the game but do we play the game? Verse 13 lets us know that some people are just lazy. Verse 18 shows the value of seeking advice before making major decisions. Verse 19 warns us not to reveal anything to a person that is known to gossip. Verse 21 warns us to be careful in dealing with someone that gained money too quickly or easily. Verse 27 is interesting...'the lamp of the Lord searches the spirit of a man; it searches out his inmost being.' The idea is that God breathed life into Adam and His light is like a lamp that searches the inner parts of man...meaning there are no secrets to be kept from God...He knows all. However, we don't...so, we must use discernment in dealing with people. Whenever we allow ourselves to be burned by people of bad character because we don't exercise discernment...it spells trouble. God doesn't want us to just go thru the motions in dealing with people. We have to be wise, think things through, stop rushing and seek helpful advice from others. God wants us to succeed in this life on earth.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Solomon Says...

Proverbs 19:

Proverbs gives a lot of attention to how prudence leads to a prosperous life because poverty can be so damaging and embarrassing. This doesn't mean that the rich are automatically good and the poor are bad. But we have to recognize that poverty can destroy our lives. Therefore, we should seek to follow biblical wisdom--not in order to get rich but in order to be free of the clutches of poverty and the power of the rich. Also, although the Bible speaks of God's compassion to the poor, it never glorifies poverty. 19:13 is probably a verse you've heard mentioned before..."a quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping." We tend to think of the drip, drip, drip of the sink. However, they didn't have sinks. Solomon was probably referring to a leaky roof, something many people during this time had experienced. A leaky roof would not just be annoying, it would cause major damage to the house. Solomon is showing that a quarrelsome wife is not only a headache, but causes a great deal of trouble for the husband and everyone else in the house. In the last few verses of the chapter and into the next we hear about the 'mocker.' A mocker in Proverbs is someone who rejects wisdom, authority, etc. How do you address a mocker? Sarcasm! Notice verse 27..."stop listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge." It could be translated this way...'stop listening to instruction, my son, so that you may wander from intelligent words.' Gotta love sarcasm!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Solomon Says...

Proverbs 18:

Several verses in the beginning of this chapter are focused on the tongue. Solomon knew that words matter...verse 21 says, "the tongue has the power of life and death." We underestimate the power of the tongue, whether used for good or evil. Verses 9-12 focus on security. Verse 11..."the wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it an unscalable wall." True security, however, is not found in money but in the Lord. I would guess that the inspiration for the Kutless song 'Strong Tower' came from verse 11. Check it out
here. Verses 15-19 talk about some of the basic rules of ancient Israel's courts. It really all boils down to fairness. Fairness should be a basic quality of someone that knows God. Verse 22 talks about the joy of having a good wife. Women would later become the downfall of Solomon as he accumulated around 1,000 wives. He must have had a lot of bathrooms in his house. The problem with all of his wives was they were not followers of God. They influenced Solomon to worship other gods. So, a God-fearing woman is 'good' and verse 22 says we can receive favor from the Lord if we find one.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Solomon Says...

Proverbs 17:

The 1st half of verse 5 says, "he who mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker." In other words, you make fun of people, you make fun of God. Now, this doesn't mean making fun of people in an enjoyable way (meaning both parties find it funny), we all do that. This is talking about cutting people down in a demeaning way. Cutting people down in order to elevate ourselves. Because they are a created being, we are in essence making fun of God. Verses 20-22 talk about family. The deeper message is that we cannot find happiness if we neglect to train, love and nurture our children. No amount of success in other areas will make up for failure here. The last two verses of the chapter show the power of our words. We did a whole series on the tongue called 'talk is (not) cheap' just a few weeks ago. Our words show us for what we are. If we speak carefully, we are wise. If we are long-winded and highly opinionated and are constantly getting into quarrels, we are fools.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Solomon Says...

Proverbs 16:

Several miscellaneous proverbs are collected in this chapter. In reading these, it's always good to underline or circle the ones that speak to you. Putting them to memory or writing them on post it notes is also a good habit to form. Verse 2 is a scary proverb. "All a man's ways seem innocent to him," is the 1st half of the verse. We've heard this before in proverbs and no one will argue this. It's easy to look at what other people do wrong and consider our decisions as healthy. The problem is the word 'seem.' And then he brings some scary reality in the 2nd half of the verse..."but motives are weighed by the Lord. Motives? Really? Man, if that doesn't make you shake nothing will. God is not just weighing my bad choices, he is weighing the motives behind those decisions. I think verse 28 is just plain sad. "A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends." Gossip whether true or false is still gossip. However, most gossip in my opinion is false or very exaggerated. So, what makes this verse so sad is that 'close friends' are separated by information that is probably false. It might be better if it said casual friends are separated by gossip, but the word close makes it sad.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Solomon Says...

Proverbs 15:

For the most part, this chapter is a collection of miscellaneous proverbs. However, the 1st 17 verses or so contain sayings on gentleness. The rest of the chapter contain 'better sayings'...proverbs that say x is better than y. Verse 4 shows the power of the tongue. We can bring healing to people or we can crush someone's spirit...the choice is ours. I think one thing we as Christians do is drastically underestimate the power between our teeth. Verse 17 shows that it doesn't matter how much 'stuff' you have, if you don't have love there is nothing. This verse reminds me of Paul, he claimed everything was worthless if we were without love. Verse 29 will encourage you or make you sick to your stomach. "The Lord is far from the wicked but he hears the prayer of the righteous." Wicked people are people that God stays away from. However, if we strive to live the life he desires...he hears our prayers. Now, he doesn't necessarily answer our prayers but he hears them. That should encourage us, because all of us have felt at different times in our life that God isn't listening. He is listening, but we may not be asking for the right things.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Solomon Says...

Proverbs 14:

Verse 3 says, 'a fool's talk brings a rod to his back, but the lips of the wise protect them.' In other words, watch your mouth or you might get a beating. I know many fights that have started because someone was unable to bite their lip. Our mouth can get us in a lot of trouble. Verses 5-7 give some good advice on watching who we listen to. Advice is always good to get but the problem is most of us usually get advice from someone that we know will agree with us. Advice is not helpful when that's the case. Verses 8-15 pretty much state that life is not always what it seems to be. Therefore, we must use wise discernment in life, which is what Proverbs is all about. Something else worth noting in this chapter is security. True security is in God and an upright life. The idea is, if a person has true security in God, even life in a tent can be secure.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Solomon Says...

Proverbs 13:

Several different topics are given in Chapter 13...the mouth, riches, providing for the family, etc. I thought verse 7 was interesting. "One man pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth." We all know people like that today. Some people always act like they have more than they really do. Also, many people are so humble, we don't realize they are rich. It amazes me that these Proverbs were written by Solomon some 3,000 years ago. It just shows you how the truths in God's word carries on year after year. Verse 20 brings to mind what we talked about last Sunday. "He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm." It matters who you run with. This is especially true for teenagers because they are at that crucial age of wanting acceptance. It's very easy to be in the wrong group and not even realize it. I think verse 25 sums it all up..."the righteous eat to their hearts content, but the stomach of the wicked goes hungry." Choosing the path of the wicked will always leave you empty. I heard someone say we were all born with an emptiness in our stomach that can only be filled with Christ. However, we try to fill it with the riches of this world, but it will never fully satisfy. I'm assuming that's how Paul was able to say he had become 'content in all circumstances' and according to Solomon...it's a path we all choose.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Solomon Says...

Proverbs 12:

It appears righteousness vs. wickedness, use and abuse of words and diligence vs. laziness are some of the main themes in this chapter. Of course, we are in the heart of proverbs now, meaning there are a lot of different topics covered in each chapter. I was a little surprised by verse 10..."a righteous man cares for the need of his animal, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel." Verses 9-11 are all talking about some fashion of providing needs. This may a good verse for the animal lovers out there. Imagine if you were out of food, who would be the last to eat? You wife? Your children? Hopefully, it would be your pet. Solomon is just letting us know that a righteous man is serious about providing for his family and even the animals are taken care of. Of course, some people care more about their pets than they do the family, but that's another story. I thought verse 15 was dead on. "The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice." Now, it would be easy to apply this verse to 'teens' but I think we've all been there and I'm sure we'll be there again in the future. It could be a job decision, dating decision, an item purchase...anything. Solomon says we can be so sure of something that it 'seems right'...key word being seems. That's a little scary when you start to think about. I think that's why we should never lead alone. We all lead in some area of life. It could be the job, home...wherever. Advice is always a good thing to go after. Many times people that are on the 'outside' can see better what needs to happen on the inside. So, next time you're sure about something, get a second or third opinion and go from there.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Solomon Says...

Proverbs 11:

There are several verses on righteousness in the beginning of this chapter. Some people may be bothered by some of these passages that appear to endorse a 'works based righteousness.' However, Proverbs never mentions that forgiveness is gained by good works to God. This really shows how we miss the whole idea of justification by grace. God's grace doesn't mean that we don't need to repent (to change directions) or that God doesn't care how we live our lives. A person that is happy with living their lives in a selfish way has never truly repented.
Another thing I noticed about this chapter are the verses on wickedness. Verse 21 says, 'be sure of this: the wicked will not go unpunished.' That's a difficult verse to read at face value because we live in a world where the wicked seem to get away with everything. We have to remember that although human justice fails, God's justice never does.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Solomon Says...

Proverbs 10:

The main focus through the first 9 chapters of Proverbs has been Wisdom, Folly, Adultery & the paths to life or death. There's been other stuff included but those are probably the main things that have risen out so far. Now we move to what my Bible says is the 'Proverbs of Solomon.' We will see more 'one-liners' now, but there is still structure. Verses 1-5 show diligence versus laziness. Verses 6-11 show the mouth of the wicked. Notice that verse 6b and 11b are the same...sort of like bookends. You will probably notice that a lot in proverbs. However, there are principles that cover a wide array of subjects in each chapter. Verse 4 'lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.' Not a guarantee to be wealthy...I know many people that work 'hard' but may not be wealthy. However, you have to define wealth. We usually like to compare with our neighbor...not the best thing to do. It's a principle, not a get-rich scheme. Meaning, if you want to be poor...be lazy. You want to be wealthy? Work hard. I like verse 17 which is a good verse for leaders. 'He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.' People that can't stand correction, based on this verse, are not ready to lead. Solomon says they will lead others astray. I know many people that resist correction from people with good intentions. That's not a healthy thing to do. Leaders are learners. Once you stop learning, you stop leading. There is so much wisdom packed into each of these chapters.