Day 151 (May 31): The wise prevail, fools end in devastation

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

Proverbs 14-16

Questions & Observations

O. The recurring theme in theses proverbs is godly/wisdom vs. wickedness/foolishness.  I also notice a lot of repetition.  Like other repetition in the Bible, it does a great job of pounding it in.

O. (14:4): I like this verse saying that you have to deal with a mess if you want to be successful.  That’s my motto … and excuse!  So, the success should be coming, right?!  J

Q. (14:12): This must mean eternal life for the godly vs. death for the wicked?

A. No.  What is it talking about is the deceitful path, which can capture both the good and the evil.  It is the seductive path that seems right, but is deadly to those who take it.

O. (14:13): I have known several people with hard childhoods who use laughter and comedy to cope or bring lightness to their lives.  They avoid conflict at all costs.

Q. (14:18): Prudent means to look into the future, but there is that old hymn “One Day at a Time, Sweet Jesus.”  What’s the right answer?

A. They’re not mutually exclusive.  You can keep an eye on the future will taking things one day at a time.  In fact, finding some way to do both would appear to be quite wise to me.

Q. (14:20): I don’t understand this verse.

A. I think it’s pretty simple.  Everyone wants to be “friends” with the rich person, even if you don’t like them.  But there is no financial incentive to be friends with poor people, so such people are often cast aside.  I would say there is great insight into human character in this verse.

Q. (14:23): I think fear of failure is the hardest thing to overcome when trying to start something new, especially a business.  For me, it’s also the fear of the unknown.  I know what I want to do, but I don’t know how to get there.  My husband and I want to start a coffee shop one of these days, but figuring out all the details seems daunting!

A. This verse is, I think, assigning value to actually working, not merely talking about working.  I don’t think it has much to say about planning to start a business.  That’s one of our big themes from this book: those who work are rewarded, those who do not lose.

Q. (14:24): Does this mean financial wealth?  All wise people are not rich unless it’s talking about wealth of fulfillment.

A. No, this is not about financial wealth.  Wisdom brings its own rewards, which do not necessarily have anything to do with finances.

Q. (14:26): So, those who fear the Lord, but don’t get everything right, are still promised a place in heaven and protection for future generations?

A. As a general rule.  Don’t forget, this is general wisdom here, not etched in stone principles.  We are saved by our faith, not our deeds, so being in right relationship with God and trusting Him is the most important thing.  Beyond that, anything God chooses to bless us with is up to Him.

Q. (14:28): I was trying to apply this to the leaders of countries.  But there are some out there that grow in population but aren’t glorious nations.  We could apply it to businesses?  Usually if a business does everything right and produces a good product or service, they grow?

A. I would be very cautious with either application.  There are just too many variables out there.

O. (14:29): Amen.

Q. (14:31): I never thought about oppressing the poor as insulting God, but I knew it was bad.  This seems obvious.  I always thought not helping was ungodly.  When a cashier asks if we want to donate to their company’s chosen charity, should we give with a happy heart?  Honestly, I am always a little annoyed by the question.  I usually say “no.” But then, there is that stubbornness.  Here is a business trying to help others and I’m scrutinizing the practice.  But, then again, are they doing it for a tax write-off or out of love?  Should it matter?

A. Helping the poor is one of the crucial things to understand from the Law: If we are all created in God’s image, then we have a responsibility to care for those who cannot support themselves.  Beyond that, however, we all must choose our own ways of going about it.  If it involves donations to companies that you know do good work in this area, then by all means do it.  If you support people you know directly, that is certainly something that honors God as long as your donations are not “holding them back” if that makes sense.  I struggle with the idea that if you make the donation to charities, then you are “done” with your service.  I think it is a very reasonable expectation of Christians that they find a particular area where they can donate their time, talent, treasure, etc. to personally make life better for others.  God surely blesses such efforts.

Q. (14:32): So, this is saying that the godly may go through disaster with the wicked, but at least the godly will have heaven?

A. I would say that’s about right.

Q. (15:1): I may be repeating myself, but this story applies here anyway.  In a past Bible study, the leader said that in most arguments attitude — pride, stubbornness — is half of the problem.  So true, right?

A. Yes.  In fact, I would say it’s more than half.  Pastor Charles Swindoll is quoted as saying that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it.  I think that puts it nicely.

Q. (15:23): It’s hard to wait for wisdom.  With so many of my encounters with people, I am trying to think before I speak, mostly, what would God want me to say or what would the loving Jesus do?  But, what happens when I don’t know what they would say and God is not providing me with the words?

A. Sometimes you have to guess, and if you are wrong, ask for forgiveness later.  If we know that we have — intentionally or not — wronged another person, we should in humility make the first step towards reconciliation and apologize.  Forgiveness covers a multitude of sins.

O. (15:24): Comforting thought.

O. (16:1): This is humbling!  And also, rewarding to know that God has a life plan for each one of us.

Q. (16:2): This is also comforting in the way that sometimes I feel like people try to show each other up, even with good things they do.  If the heart is not engaged or they boast about their charity work, then who is it for?  Not God or those you helped.

A. Remember what God told Samuel when he anointed David: we humans look at outside appearance, but God looks at the heart.

Q. (16:4): Can you explain this one?

A. This verse is touching upon a complex theology of predestination, which basically states that all humans were created to fulfill their purposes that God made them for.  So in this case, the verse is saying that the wicked could be raised up and destroyed in order to be an example, or perhaps I should say a non-example, to others.  I have mixed feelings about such ideas, but they are clearly a part of scripture, and one of the things that God desires to teach us is that even in verses that we may not agree with, we must trust that He is sovereign and we are not.

Q. (16:7): No enemies?  Another reason to be godly!  We all have run across people like this who are super sweet, never have a bad thing to say and never seem to have enemies.

A.  Be careful here.  This is another example of general wisdom that may not work itself out in the way you think.  Jesus clearly pleased His Father more than any other human being who has ever lived, but that did not stop Him from having many enemies, who eventually got Him killed.

Q. (16:22): Can you explain this one?

A. It actually fits with all these questions you’ve had about speaking verses not speaking.  If you are discrete, and know when to talk and when to be silent, it will be a fountain of life to you.

Q. (16:26): And, what does this mean?

A. I guess generally it means we tend to work harder with some sort of incentive.  Food is one of the best incentives.

Q. (16:31): Ditto.

A. Though it is difficult for us to understand in a society where only things which are young are valued, this verse is saying that growing old and getting the gray hair that comes with it are something to be respected and admired, like a crown.

Q. (16:33): Love it.  Great saying.  I wonder when dice were invented though.  Is it likely “cast lots” like the footnote says?

A. The lots were like dice, and served the same purpose.

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