PROVERBS OUTLINE & REFLECTIONS

  1. Prologue: Purpose and Theme – Exhortations to Embrace Wisdom, Warning Against Enticement, Warning Against Rejecting Wisdom

  2. Moral Benefits of Wisdom

  3. Further Benefits of Wisdom – Trust, Fear, Honor the Lord

  4. Wisdom is Supreme

  5. Warning Against Adultery

  6. Warning Against Folly – What God Hates

  7. Warning Against the Adulteress

  8. Wisdom’s Call

  9. Invitations of Wisdom and Folly

  10. TO 29. Proverbs of Solomon

30.  Saying of Agur

31.  Saying of King Lemuel – Epilogue: The wife of Noble Character (31: 10-31)

 

 

REFLECTIONS ON EACH PROVERB

 

 

Proverb #1:

The purpose of the book of Proverbs is spelled out in its first few verses.  Those who read it and heed it will gain wisdom, understanding, insight and the knowledge of what is right, just and fair.  These words are helpful for all people – old and especially the young, sages and simpleton, the experienced and the native.  This is a collection of really good advice.

When reading the proverbs, it’s important to recognize that they describe how God designed life to work.  They don’t necessarily represent the spiritual equivalent of the law of gravity: hard-and-fast commands and promises of Scripture, however, that disaster and death can strike a godly person.  So while such statements generally are true, the individual proverbs are not to be interpreted as prophetic guarantees of cause and effect.

 

Proverb #2:

Wisdom doesn’t just come to us.  We don’t get it through osmosis or passivity or a moment of enlightenment.  We have to search for understanding as for hidden treasure, and that’s a lifelong process.  One of the most important things we can do is described in verse 3: Ask for it.  That’s how Solomon acquired his wisdom (see 1 Kings 3:5-9), and that’s how we get almost anything of importance in life.  We pray, asking God for what only he can give.

The assurance of an answer is given in Proverbs 2:6.  We don’t pray to a silent God.  He gives understanding.  In the New Testament, we are told that believers in Jesus have his mind (1 Corinthians 2:16) and that God grants wisdom freely to those who ask and believe(James 1:5-6).  Those who seek understanding from God will receive it --- over time, through diligence and persistence, in the context of a relationship with him.  If we want to be wise, we have to draw close to the source of all wisdom

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Proverb #3

Solomon’s father, David, urged him to serve the Lord with whole-hearted devotion (see 1 Chronicles 28:9).  Now Solomon, likely the author of most of Proverbs, passes the same advice on to his own sons.  These rich, well-known verses tell us to trust in God with all our heart—to lean on the understanding of the one who has a truly accurate perspective and a clear view of the past, present and future.

It makes much more sense to depend on the infinite mind of all wisdom and knowledge rather than on our own finite minds.  Yet, perhaps from fear that we won’t be able to access his wisdom, we often lean on our own understanding.  We list the pros and cons, project as many possible outcomes as we can think of and obsess about details we can’t control.  But if we disavow our own wisdom and truly lean on the promise God gives us, submitting entirely to him, he will direct our paths----even when those paths appear random.  He knows how to get his children where we need to go.

 

Proverb #4

“Above all else.”  Those are significant words cluing us in to our priority in this whole wisdom adventure.  Yes, it’s important to fill our minds with truth and seek understanding.  We direct our eyes and watch our mouths and take careful steps.  But above all, we need to guard our hearts.  None of the rest matters if our motive and passions override our thoughts and behaviors.  The leaning of our hearts influence how we interpret the wisdom we receive and apply it to our lives.

While we may assume that guarding our hearts is simply a matter of keeping bad things out, it’s also important to guard the heart by keeping the good things in.  Whatever truth we learn, the seeds that are planted within us by God, the desire that fit his kingdom purposes---these must all be cultivated.  Our tendency is to become highly motivated and impacted by the Spirit and then let our motives and determination slowly slip away.  Guarding our hearts----keeping negative influences out and positive influences in ---points our thoughts and actions in the right direction.

 

Proverb #5

Proverbs contains many warning against adultery and the seductions of illicit pleasures.  These warnings are from a king, surrounded by a multitude of wives and concubines, who had learned quite a few lessons to pass on to his sons---but they have larger spiritual implications too.  The greatest law God gave to his people is to love him with everything in them.  And the greatest sin throughout Spiritual is idolatry----or, as the prophets put it Spiritual adultery.  In God’s eyes, faithfulness is a really big deal.

Whether a temptation is physical or spiritual, the dynamics are the same.  It looks enticing.  It may seem harmless.  The lips of temptation seem too drip honey and speak soothingly (see verse 3).  But life is full of rationales that lead to ruin and promises that lead to pain.  God is no enemy of pleasure---he invented it and offers it to us (see psalm16:11)—but the enemy and our flesh exploit our desires and aim them in unfulfilling directions.  We need to be discerning; any king of unfaithfulness will leave us empty.

 

Proverb #6

Scripture tells us that god love (see 1 John 4:8,16), but it also tells us there are some things he hates---and it says so in a book of wisdom.  That’s because wisdom is much more than getting principles and instructions from God.  If wisdom were simple good advice---information passed on to us impersonally---we could develop some religious practices and call it righteousness.  But in God’s kingdom, wisdom is much more relational.  We can’t really become wise outside of a personal interaction with God.  He can’t really become wise outside of personal of personal interaction with God.  He doesn’t just give wisdom; He is wisdom.

When we spend time with God and learn what he loves and hates, that affects our hearts.  We begin to cultivate the same passions.  We develop a distaste for pride, deception, violence and scheming, and we develop an affection for what he loves, including his people and his mission.  When our passions align with God’s, wisdom happens much more naturally than when we try to absorb principles and implement them in our lives. A heart that beats with God’s inevitably generates thoughts and actions consistent with God’s heart.

 

Proverbs #7

In Deuteronomy 6:6-9, Moses told the Israelites to fully integrate the law into their lives: to talk about it at home and on the road, when they went to bed at night and when they got up in the morning, to bind it to their foreheads and hands and write it on their doorframes as constant reminders.  Solomon uses similar language to impress upon his son the importance of his advice.  In fact, in many places he elevates his words from “advise” to “commands” (see Proverbs 7:1-2).  These are that important.

True wisdom is a treasure.  Like a collector who can’t stop adding to a collection or a jeweler who can’t stop gazing at the beauty of jewels, we are to gather and savor divine truth, marveling at its beauty and enjoying its blessings.  The mind of God, to whatever extent we can share it, fill us with his presence and leads us in his ways.  We are to get up close and personal with his wisdom and insight, seeing them as “relatives”.  Then God’s mind becomes a part of who we are.

 

Proverb #8

Wisdom calls out to us (see Proverbs 1:20-21; 8:1-4).  Apparently, so does Folly (see Proverbs 9:13-15).  Their methods of communication are similar; they sit in public places shouting their advice to all who will listen.  The difference between them is in what they say and the hearts they connect with.  Those who are inclined toward God---who love him and want to do his will----will hear the voice of wisdom and respond.  Those who have little depth and no desire for God---who can’t see beyond themselves and the present moment---will hear the voice of Folly and respond.  Two voices, two kinds of hearts; as a result, two drastically different journeys.

Which voice will we choose to trust?  The question is more complicated than it seems: It doesn’t   involve just a single choice but rather a series of choices every day, and sometimes Folly imitates Wisdom.  But prayer, patience and commitment to truth will reveal the difference and give us the discipline and courage to choose well.  Hearts that crave wisdom will choose the right voice.

 

Proverb #9

Jacob wrestled with God and was forever changed (see Genesis 32:22-32).  Isaiah saw God on his throne, cried out for mercy and was cleansed and commissioned as the Lord’s prophet (see Isaiah 6:1-13).  John had a vision of the risen Christ and was practically paralyzed by the sight (see Revelation 1:12-18). In each of these cases, a glimpse of majesty gave them a changed and lasting perspective on their lives, their world and their God.  Clearly they had some degree of wisdom before their encounter---they all had experienced God and displayed wisdom---but being overwhelmingly awed by him shaped them forever.

That our goal: to increasingly encounter God in such a way that we are radically changed.  When we get glimpses of who he is, it changes our perspective.  Our priorities shift and our attitudes bend to reflect his nature.  His mission becomes much more relevant, his character becomes much more beautiful and his presence becomes more real.  He becomes the basis of our lives, and wisdom flows freely from such a foundation.

 

Proverb #10

The proverb reminds us that our expectation may shape our lives more than we realize.  Those who worry constantly about the details of life never run out of theings to worry about---and often find their worries were valid.  Those who believe God answers prayer often experience answers.  Those who expect to see God’s goodness usually do.

God honors the inclinations of our hearts.  He prefers to shape them himself, but when we draw close to him, he plants many desires within us.  When people insist on keeping him at arm’s length, he honors their wishes as well.

Perhaps that’s one reason why we are urged, in Proverbs 4:23, to guard our hearts.  We need to be intentional about the images, moods and expectations we hold within us.  Much of what we receive from God is realized  in the basis of our faith. If we don’t have any faith, what we dread may be worth dreading.  But if we do have faith, often our desires will be granted.

 

Proverb #11

Pride versus humility is a consistent theme not only in Proverbs but throughout Scripture.  God detests the proud, we are told (see proverbs16:5).  He opposed them, but shows favor to the humble (see Proverb 3:34).  Pride brings people down, but the humble are eventually lifted up (see 1 Peter 5:5-6).  Again and again we see this dynamic not only in the Bible but also in own lives and in the people around us.

Why is God so opposed to pride?  For one thing, it’s delusional.  When we know who God is and who we are in comparison, we can’t help but be humble.  Any other perspective is a false view of reality.  But more than that, pride seems to be the source of all other sins.  It has satanic implications (see Isaiah 14:12-14) Ezekiel 28:12-17).  When people begin to elevate themselves above others dishonestly, contempt, manipulation and a host of other offenses suddenly become justifiable.  Pride corrupts wisdom, while humility attracts it.  Throughout Proverbs, pride and folly go hand in hand. Only the humble can be wise.

 

Proverbs #12

The difference between wisdom and folly is perhaps nowhere clearer than in our speech.  Proverbs 12 repeatedly contrasts the foolish and the wise in terms of what comes out of their mouths.  The words of the wicked are treacherous, while the words of the upright bring safety (see verse 6.)  Sinful talk becomes a trap, but the innoncent become free (see verse 13).  Proper speech can bring us good things (see verse 14).  Truth or lies (see verse 17), wounds or healing (see verse 18), momentary or lasting (see verse 19), God’s disdain or God’s delight (see verse 22)---there is a lot at stake in what flows out of our hearts and off of our tongues.

We know this to be true.  All of us have made foolish comments we regretted.  The solution  isn”t simply to discipline our words---althought that’s a great start---but to be transformed from within.  Pure fountains don’t spew dirty water.  Our words are symptoms of an internal condition.  If the symptoms alarm us, we know what to do: Ciltivate wisdom in our innermost being by drawing nearer and nearer to God.

 

Proverb #13

We all yearn for something.  Wh have strong desires that we bring to God, hoping he will fulfill them..  Sometimes we’re afraid to get our hopes up---we’ve often heard that God will give us what we need but not necessarily what we want---yet, as the poet Alexander pope said, hope springs eternal in the human breast.  Something in us refuses to give up.  God ie well axquainted with our longings; Scripture is filled with expressions of them.  And the glimpses of “longing fulfilled”--- Abraham and Sarah finally getting the last “laugh” with the birth of Isaac (see Genesis 21:1-7), Israel’s song of celebration on the fafe side of the Red Sea in Exodus 15, Hannah’s prayer of gratitude (see 1 Samuel  2:1-10), the exhilaration of the exiles in Psalm 126---stir our hopes even more.  Ore “hpe deferred” reminds us that God’s greatest works often involve painful years of waiting.  But the “tree of life”—an image seen only in the Garden of Eden (see Genesis 2:9), the new Jerusalem (see Revelation 22:2) and here in Proverbs (see also 3;18, 11:30, 15:4) ---gives us hope that our longings will be fulfilled in God’s time.

 

Proverb #14

The world os full of manipulators.  Some are outright deceivers trying to con anyone they can and take advantage of the innocent.  Most, however, are people who are just trying to get by.  They don’t meant of manipulate; it’s just a survival skill they have learned over the years.  They have felt hurt or betrayed, so they don’t trust God or others.  And if God can’t be trusted to provide or protect, they will just have to look out for themselves.  If they don’t manipulate the people around them to their own advantage, they think they will never have any advantage at all.

People who know god and trust him don’t have to scheme.  We can rest in the fact that the sovereign God will work out his purpose in our lives even if we aren’t on top of every detail.  Trusting in his goodness gives us rest in our hearts.

 

Proverb #15

We are told elsewhere in Proverbs that wise words bring healing (see Proverbs 12:18) and that the tongue contains “the power of life and death” (see Proverb 18:21).  Here we see that a gentle answer defuses anger, wise words enhance knowledge and soothing words bring life.  That’s a lot of power for a small part of the body, but the rest of Scripture and our own experience affirm the impact of words.  We can wreck a lot of havoc with what we say—James compares our tongues to a spark that can start a forest fire (see James 3:5-6).  But the opposite is also true: We can praise God and bless other with positive, encouraging, praiseworthy statements of truth.

Think of that.  We can make a dramatic difference in people’s lives simply by asking god to minister to them, speaking a blessing over them, affirming their gifts, encouraging them about their God-given potential and more.  We can heal past wounds, offer forgiveness and declare god’s love.  Why would we be reluctant to wield that kind of power?  Words of affirmation, blessing and encouragement cost us nothing, but they can accomplish great things.

 

Proverb #16

It sounds like an astounding promise: If God takes please, or is pleased, with us, he causes our enemies to make peace with us.  We do see examples from the Bible of this principle when we look at the reigns of godly Asa and Jehoshaphat (see 2 Chronicles 14:2, 6-7, 17:3-6,10).  But we run into a problem when we realize that God was pleased with Jesus, yet his enemies hated him and executed him.  God was pleased with Joseph, Moses, David, the prophets  the disciples, Paul and many more, yet all faced fierce opposition,  So what is this proverb saying?

The general principle here is that a life that please God will be above reproach, and the person will find favor with others.  But we need to remember that, like many proverbs, this one doesn’t  apply to all circumstances.  It may be evident in a season of our lives when we desperately need God’s help.  Ultimately it applies to all of us, as one day no enemy will be able to touch us.  For now,  we are guaranteed resistance and even persecution (see 2 Timothy 3:12).  But in the eternal scheme of things, any opposition we face is limited.  The time of dealing with enemies will come to an end.  That’s the promise.

 

Proverb #17

Friendship----the kind that forms into a lasting bond that can endure adversity—is a gift from god.  Sometimes it seems like a rare gift; human hearts can be fickle and superficial.  But out of all our acquaintances, usually one, two or maybe even several turn out to be faithful friends who will stick with us through whatever we face and who can rely on us to do the same for them.  That’s a privilege and a blessing from heaven.

Abraham is described in the Bible as God’s “friend” (see 2 Chronicles 20:7, Isaiah 41:8, James 2;23), and Jesus told his disciples they weren’t his servants, but his friends (see John 15:15.  Friendship is important in our human relationships, but it also is what God wants from us.  Yes, he is our Shepherd, our Master, our Lord---but also our Father, Bride-groom and Friend.  The relationship is meant to be deeply personal and to go both ways.  Like a good friend, he “loves at all times” and sticks with us in “a time of adversity” (see Proverb 17:17).

 

Proverb #18

God loves justice.  In fact, justice and righteousness are the “foundation” of his throne (Psalm 89:14; 97:2).  We know him as a God of mercy.  He graciously withholds judgment from those who believe in him and accepts his Son’s sacrifice on their behalf.  But justice---compassion for the poor, weak, oppressed and brokenhearted—is as prominent a theme in Scripture as evangelism and prayer.  It’s part of who God is.

The Bible never insists that we be vigilant about defending our rights.  Jesus was quite clear about that in the Sermon on the Mount.  But the Bible certainly urges us to be vigilant about protecting the rights of others, especially those who are at a social disadvantage.  Depriving the innocent, the weak  or the disadvantaged of justice is a sin in God’s eyes, as numerous psalms and passages from the prophets testify (see for example, Psalm 11:4-7; 12:5; Isaiah 3:13-15; Ezekiel 22:24-31; Micah 2;1-11).  When we love justice, we are being like God himself.

 

Proverb # 19

We hardly notice we’re doing it, although some of us do it often.  We get mad at God for whatever hardship we find ourselves in.  Yet when we dig down to the root of the hardship, we often find that we brought it on ourselves, either by an unwise decision or by unwisely avoiding a decision that could have prevented it.  The finger we point at god could easily be turned back towards us.

Not all hardship is our own fault.  We face many trials that we did not cause.  In any hardship, we should not embrace the attitude of many guilt-ridden individuals who, whenever something bad happens, assume they did something to deserve it.  But we also shouldn’t be like the fools who rage at God for the ruin that resulted from their own folly.  We have to own up to our decisions (and our indecisions), learn from them, ask god to teach us better ways and move forward in his grace.  It’s called personal responsibility.  And it produces wisdom.

 

Proverb # 20

Those who try to gain a completive advantage through dishonest means, no matter how slight, are making a powerful statement about what they believe.  They are making it clear that they don’t trust God to provide for them, defend them or show them his favor.  Yet an alarming number of Christians are carless with their integrity.  When our work ethics allow for inaccurate timesheets, hidden costs, unreliable quotes, questionable expense reports and other dubious practices, we are defrauding someone.  We are being dishonest.

Few employers expect their employees to be hyper-conscientious about every minute of cent—that can become cumbersome, counterproductive and even annoying.---but when an employer or client expects one thing and we give them something less, that’s an ethical problem.  God is a god of integrity.  His people are t be known for it too.

 

Proverb #21

The heart matters.  This place at the center of our being---the  thoughts and feelings we have, the motives that fuel us, the dreams and desires we nurture---is extremely important to God.  Many religions focus on their adherents’ behaviors and the consequent outcomes: doing the right thing and producing results for their deity or their cause.  But God goes deeper; a relationship with him transforms our hearts and reshapes them throughout the course of our lives.

God is interested in what we do, but the motives behind what we do are more important.  Paul wrote that even profound and fruitful ministry is nothing if it isn’t motivated by love (see 1 Corinthians 13: 1-13).  Our decisions are not hidden from God’s sight; he see every hint of every motive---usually a complicated mixture---that goes into them.  So what do we do if our motives fall short of his desires?  God not only can he channel the hearts of kings (see Proverbs 21:1), he can shape ours.  He not only sees the problem, he is the solution.  We can ask the one who weighs our motives to transform them.

 

Proverb #22

Years ago, “commitment to excellence” became a catchy phrase and integral part of the mission statement of many organizations.  It has waned somewhat in popularity, probably for a couple of reasons: It’s easy to say but hard to execute, and it shouldn’t be such an unusual goal that we have to declare it.  But in spite of the fact that everyone should aim for excellence without having to say so, we still see approaches to business and to personal life that ignore that standard.  Some people and organizations demonstrate a commitment to just getting by, a commitment to mere survival, a commitment to just “putting in the time”.  Excellence is not the result.

God’s people should make excellence a part of their personal ethos.  It’s different than striving for perfection, which produces anxiety and led leads to unrealistic goals.  Including excellence in our personal mission statement is something that will serve us well in our journey on earth.  God honors and promotes those whose excellence---in any area of life---reflects the excellence of his name.

 

Proverb #23

The writer of Psalm 73 was alarmed that the wicked seemed to be having a great time in life and the righteous seemed to be suffering.  That didn’t fit the picture of God’s justice---until the psalmist came into God’s presence and got an eternal perspective (see Psalm 73:17).  He realized that in the long run, the pleasures of the wicked will pass into pain and the pain of those who love God will give way to pleasures in his presence forever.  The momentary view was deceptive.

That’s why Proverbs strongly warn us here and elsewhere (see Proverbs 3:31, 24:1-2, 19-20) against envying those who are not living for God.  At time it may look like they are having all the fun, but their lives will ultimately be unfulfilling unless the forsake evil and follow God’s paths.  Because we are confident in our hope, we can be zealous for God and refuse to envy sinners.  We are rich in  God’s goodness not only now but also in the future.  We will never regret the hard choice we make for him.

 

Proverb #24

Several passages in the book of Proverbs advocate strongly for diligence and contain harsh words against laziness (see Proverbs 6: 6-11; 19:15; 26:13-16).  Solomon’s own work ethic was demonstrated by the massive temple and palace—not to mention Jerusalem’s wall and may fortress towns throughout Israel--- that were built over the course of his reign.  The king accomplished a lot.  But he also wore out his people, who pleaded with his successor for relief from heavy taxation and conscription of labor forces.

Hard work is good, right and godly.  Being a workaholic isn’t.  Wisdom discerns the difference.   And though laziness is condemned, the ability to rest at appropriate times is necessary---and, coincidentally, written into God’s law in the form of a seventh-day Sabbath.  Modern cultures are a strange mix of two extremes.  Many people are far too casual about their responsibilities, while others are much too busy to take care of themselves.  We need balance, working hard when it’s time to work and resting well when it’s time to rest.  Too much of one and not enough of the other lead to ruin.

 

Proverb #25

God gets glory because humans cannot fully understand his universe or the way he rules it, whereas a king get glory if he can uncover the truth and administer justice.  That can be frustrating for all of us---who, as members of god’s “royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9), qualify in some sense for the king’s privilege.  But this is how God separated those who love him from those who are just curious.

Hebrews 11:6 tell us that God “rewards those who earnestly seek him”.  That tells us (1) that he is hard enough to find that we need to seek diligently and (2) that it won’t –ultimately—be a frustrating search.  In fact, this is not only the dynamic of knowing him, it’s the dynamic of faith in general.  God seems to enjoy the hide and seek nature of the relationship.  He hides his treasures so that only those who know his goodness well enough to persist in faith will find them, but not so well that they are impossible to find.  The whole search-and-find process is designed to draw us into a closer relationship with him.

 

Proverb #26

Though proverbs 26:4 and 5 appear at first to be contradictory, two different situations are being addressed.  To get into an argument with a fool makes one look like a fool.  But sometimes folly must be exposed and denounced.  Plus, the one who rebukes the fool discourages the person from becoming proud.  In insignificant issues, we should just ignore foolish persons; in issues that matter, they must be dealt with because others may be led astray by their words.

God’s Word is thoroughly consistent, yet some directions given for certain situations and seasons in our lives may seem contradictory.  For example, when faced with a huge decision, do we wait on the Lord or move forward in faith?  Both options are encouraged in Scripture, but only one fits a particular moment.  Do we save some of our resources for the future or lay up our treasures in heaven rather than on earth?  Both are Biblical principles, but principles are never enough.  God has not called us into a relationship with principles; he has called us into a relationship with him.  In any given situation, we need to bring our circumstances to him and listen for his response.

 

Proverb # 27

Some people love a good fight.  Most, however, avoid conflict whenever possible.  There’s a healthy balance between contentiousness and conflict avoidance, and finding that balance can be very rewarding in the context of relationships.  As those who are called to speak the truth in love (see Ephesians 4:15), we need to be open to both giving and receiving hard advice with those we care about.  The wounds from a friend are far better than flattery from an enemy.  Heartfelt counsel, even if it isn’t what we want to say or hear, is worth a lot.

It’s hard to be completely honest in confronting someone because we risk rejection if the honesty isn’t well received.  And it’s hard to be on the receiving end because we can easily mistake constructive criticism for disapproval or rejection.  But this is part of how “iron sharpens iron” (Proverb 27:17).  We become stronger in relationships in which blunt honesty flourishes without being threatening.  We need to be strong enough to speak truth into the lives of those close to us-----and to allow them to speak truth into ours.

 

Proverb # 28

God is a generous God, and his people are to be generous people.  “Freely you have received; freely give,” Jesus told his disciples (Matthew 10:8).  That concept applies to every area of life.  Paul tells us that “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). Throughout Scripture, we are encouraged to live with an open hand.  Why?  Because God opens his hand to us.

That’s why so many verses in Proverbs and in the rest of the Bible warn of the dangers of greed.  It isn’t wealth that’s wrong---God gave quite a few of his choice servants in Scripture an abundance of possessions.  But the pursuit of wealth as a goal can be dangerous, distracting from God’s purpose and tempting us to sin.  Material poverty cultivates a much truer spiritual perspective than greed dose, but the rich who give generously have a true spiritual perspective—and the means to do a lot of good.  God bless those who, like him, live with an open hand.

 

Proverb #29

The gospel of Luke tells us that the Jewish religious leaders wanted to get rid of Jesus because “they were afraid of the people” (Luke 22:2).  Fear of losing their influence and of the consequences of social unrest fueled their hatred of Jesus and contributed to their desire to have him put to death.  We have our own fears, usually less dramatic---loss of security, position, influence, approval, reputation, income and much more---and we make compromises we know we shouldn’t make.

Our fears usually prove to a snare for us, and they all stem from not trusting God.  Fear is behind peer pressure, compromise, an unbridled pursuit of wealth and security, and much of what we do for affirmation and approval.  Fear divert us from an uncompromising commitment to God and his plan for our lives.  The remedy is trust: a choice to depend entirely on god for all we need in every area of life.  When we trust him completely, no one can intimidate us.  We are free to live as he wants us to live.

 

Proverb #30

The sayings of Agur are an excerise in how to find truth in the living parables God has put around us.  IN nature and human society, Agur found pictures of dissatisfaction, untraceable mysteries, unbearable people, wisdom in small packages and confident attitudes.  There’s nothing particularly remarkable in these images, but the fact that Agur seemed to be interacting with God through the visuals around him is remarkable.  We see this often in Scripture—God speaking in pictures rather than words.  For example, God gave us visual illustrations in the tabernacle and in its articles of worship.  God’s preferred language seems to be images.

It helps to know that, especially when we’re listening for God to speak in the depths of our spirits.  If we’re only tuning in to hear words, we might miss something.  God surrounds us with living parables---natural or social illustrations of spiritual truth.  If we ask him to show us lessons in life, we will begin to “see” his voice more often.

 

Proverb # 31

The Book of Proverbs ends with a dazzling description of “a wife of noble character” (31:10).  She does everything well.  She takes care of her  home, works with her hands, buys a field and tends it, gets up early and stays up late, trades like a savvy merchant, meets all the needs of family, works with charities, and earns the admiration of everyone around her.  This woman is more valuable that priceless jewels.

The problem is that now woman can fit this profile.  Some may approach this ideal, bit it’s hard to imagine anyone with this degree of versatility, universal affirmation and freedom from conflict. It’s an impossible standard for any woman.

The description is actually a composite portrayal of admirable characteristics in women—an encouraging and liberating image that has something for every woman to strive for.  This poem captures the ideals of wisdom that have filled Proverbs.  Most importantly, the woman in the poem fears the Lord.  And, as we know, that’s where wisdom begins.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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