CC Image courtesy of Martin LaBar on Flickr.
Author: Bob Bailey
So much advice and it seems so random. Well, at least to the modern reader. We know that there are major themes and connections once we begin to read larger sections of Proverbs and take into account ancient cultural context. So, how do we maneuver through this list of seemingly unconnected bits of advice? It is easy to identify the positive and negative attributes and characteristics presented. No one questions that we don’t aspire to be so lazy that we can’t even feed ourselves (vs. 24), or that being a liar is a bad thing. What is at the root of what the writer is trying to say? Does he really want me to work on these individual traits? The answer may be planted a little deeper.
One can work on these characteristics individually, like being slow to anger, or being more generous, but if we miss the reason in vs. 3 that “when a man’s folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the Lord,” we also miss that recurring theme in vs. 23: “The fear of the Lord leads to life and whoever has it rests satisfied”.
How many people work on thorn bushes expecting apples? How many people seek fulfillment and find folly because they have the wrong roots in their hearts. Starting with the right roots (the fear of the Lord) helps us grow in the direction of good branches and eventually the fruit of integrity, good sense, understanding and overlooking the offense of others. When we see questionable fruit in ourselves or others, maybe we should look at our roots.
CC Image courtesy of Jessica Curtin on Flickr.
Author: Bob Bailey
We live in the market place. Unless we are asleep our TV, our computer, our smart phone, our radio in the car, or even a live person is trying to sell us something or convince us of something. “You won’t believe what happens when…” is the teaser to a video on Facebook. “New discovery will put diet pill companies out of business,” reads the headline of the newspaper ad. Many voices in many forms constantly assail our ears and eyes. It is as if we are walking down the midway of a carnival and the hawkers are desperately vying for our attention.
We screen and filter these voices without a second thought. Letting in what we think important, knowing the emptiness, or at least the limited value of the product being thrust upon us. With so much information overload, and so much noise, we can lose the sound of one voice calling to us: the voice of our Creator. In Proverbs 8 we see the voice of God embodied in a woman called Wisdom. She calls out to us in as many places as those self-centered peddlers mentioned earlier. She brings her friends Prudence, Knowledge, and Discretion.
She tells us that she and her friends are more precious than gold and silver. That kings and rulers give their testimonials about her. That she was set up in the beginning to work beside the Creator and delights in the children of man. But we have to do more than hear that voice. We have to listen. We have to listen repeatedly and often.