Day 153 (June 2): More words of wisdom to make your life easier, more fulfilled and more enjoyable

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 20-22:16

Questions & Observations

Q. (Proverbs 20:1): It says that those led astray by drinking cannot be wise, but what about those who drink and don’t go astray.  This is probably not a big question, but I think it’s one that often comes into play.  Some say everything in moderation is OK.  My husband and I drink beer, not much.  For me, it’s like once a week or so.  (I couldn’t do this blog if I did more than that.  I can fall asleep after one.)  But, when we first start socializing with people, especially Christians, it’s always an unknown if people drink or not.  I don’t think it should be a big deal.  But, some make a huge deal of drinking anything at all.

A. Moderation is key with the consumption of alcohol.  Only drunkenness is forbidden in scripture, and there is no ban on consumption.  Unfortunately, many people do now know their limits — or ignore them — and abuse alcohol, often to dull unpleasant feelings.

Q. (20:2): These readings refer to “the king” a lot.  They seem to set up this king to be very close to God.

A. If Solomon and his associates put this together as tradition tells us, then yes.

Q. (20:3): Yes, but avoiding it can also cause the honorable to explode!

A. I think the key word in the sentence is “insist.”  There are some people who just feel the need to come to blows, and that makes them very difficult to be around.  Surely, as Kenny Rogers tells us, sometimes you do have to fight when you’re a man, but to insist on fighting is a very bad idea indeed.

O. (20:4, 21:5): I guess we can’t live in our own little bubble and do our work when we wish.

O. (20:5): That’s the part I have trouble with.  I think I have good advice, but I do not have the wisdom to share it properly.  And, I wonder if I’m supposed to share at all.

Q. (20:9): I would say almost no one?

A. Pretty wise of you.

Q. (20:12): Why is this said?

A. So we don’t forget that they are gifts and not rights.  Perhaps if we understood that better, we would choose to listen and see better things.

Q. (20:21): Because they do not have the wisdom to know how to use their inheritance?

A. Probably.

O. (20:22): This is a hard thing to do — to let God get your revenge for you.  But, just thinking about releasing those feelings of revenge sounds liberating.

Q. (20:24): I am so inquisitive and I would assume that most people are.  So here again, it’s hard to ignore those qualities and questions.  But, like it says here, it doesn’t matter about the particulars as long as the end goal is reached.  Right?

A. I admit that I am a bit confused by this one as well.  It seems like the way to honor God would be to learn and ask more, but Solomon doesn’t seem to think so at that particular moment.

O. This certainly paints and interesting picture.  God can light us up and see any evil.  The good part about this, most of us should be good!

Q. (20:30): Is this talking about disciplining children or ourselves?  I am thinking of Da Vinci code where Silas (not sure if that’s right) inflicted on himself.

A. There are certainly those throughout history who felt that the best way to combat sin was to use physical punishment such as flailing as you saw in the movie.  There are also people, I’m think of Passion reenactments in the Philippines, who believe they draw closer to God through suffering as Jesus did, and even allow nails to be driven through their hands.  I would obviously not recommend this, and believe that personal discipline should be done without bloodshed, but not everyone sees it that way.

Q. (21:3): Goodbye sacrifices!  But, I’m sure he still likes personal sacrifices — seeing people give up their belongings or time for His glory.

A. Be careful.  First, it did not say that God was not pleased by the sacrifices, only that He would prefer the acts of mercy and justice.  What we will see in the nation is that they will continue to offer the sacrifices, but the hearts of the people are never truly with God, and it will cost them dearly.

Q. (21:9): Does this situation validate divorce?  This and several verses talk about a confrontational wife.  Why talk about that so much? Does it have anything to do with a previous verse we read about a wife being a treasure?

A. I think both a very true.  There is no application or validation of divorce here, Solomon is simply stating the facts — as he sees them anyway — a good wife is a treasure, but a bad one is torture for a man.

O. (21:13): The circle of life.  A good reason to help whenever we can — reciprocate!

Q. (21:17): I would say this applies to those who love wine and luxury more than anything.  Who can resist a great massage?

A. As with alcohol, moderation is the wisest path.  If you get that massage every day, you will be poor eventually.

Q. (21:23): This one is so hard for me!  It’s so hard not to say stuff sometimes!

A. Since you are feeling so strongly about it, I would believe that you see the wisdom in the words, you simply find it hard to follow.  That’s the rub.

Q. (21:26): I hope it’s OK to want some things, just not let it rule my world!

A. When John Rockefeller was asked, “how much money is enough,” he famously replied, “a little bit more.”  That, my friend, is greed.  If you are never satisfied with what you have, then greed and/or jealously is likely the root of your problem.

O. (21:30): We should be delighted to give God the glory of our victories … (oops) His victories!

Q. (22:3): I gotta stop right here.  How can we remember all of these rules?  We are just human.  Is our guiding light the new law in the NT — love your God and love your neighbor.

A. Once again, these aren’t rules, just wisdom.  You can remember or forget them as you see fit, but Solomon clearly saw enough wisdom in the words to write them down, so perhaps it might be worth our time?  In Jesus’ day, there were students of the Law, who were called lawyers, and priests who studied these words for years, and they could recite for you the ENTIRE OT word for word perfectly.  The human mind has an incredible capacity for learning and remembering things.  It will simply be a matter of what we choose to “feed” it.

Q. (22:4): How hard it is to be 100% humble!  As the rich, young ruler story goes, he was in agreement with his faith until God said to give up all of his belongings and power and follow Jesus.  I think missionaries must be the most humble people, giving up everything to serve the Lord.  We all have our own callings right?  We don’t have to get rid of all of our belongings, right?

A. Worried I might say you need to give up your house?  As Summit’s guest pastor Rob Duford talked about a couple of weeks ago, the reason Jesus required that particular sacrifice of that particular man was that it was his possessions that were preventing him from following Jesus.  He was too attached to being rich and powerful, so Jesus — in love, not as a punishment — suggested that he give up what was keeping him from God: his stuff.  I honestly feel that many people would have a better relationship with God if they got rid of most, if not all, of their stuff, but it is, frankly, a terrifying prospect.  But too often, our things become idols — i.e. the stuff we own ends up owning us — and the only way to deal with such idols in our hearts is to give them up.  I was honestly, quite sad that Rob stopped short of saying any such thing in his sermon series, but maybe that’s why he’s got a church to lead and I do not.

O. (22:6): The magical verse that should direct all child-rearing!  I have always said that the self-help books aren’t the answer to perfect children and perfect parents.  They don’t work for everyone.  And, they drive me crazy because they could boil down the whole book into a few pages or maybe even one paragraph.  A woman in our small group submitted a book to be published.  The publisher was interested —it’s not a self-help book, but I think the publishing requirements would still apply — but wanted her to fluff it up to the tune of double it’s size to make it more marketable.  So, right there you have it.  You don’t need to read it all, probably just the first and last paragraph of each chapter.  My philosophy is — because I don’t have time to read all of that repetition, noted much of the info is good — to just love your children and most everything should fall into place like raising them to be a Christian, teaching them right from wrong, using a loving tone of voice most of the time, and telling them they are a blessing every day.

Q. (22:15): Rob, can you discuss this one?

A. It sounds like more advice to give corporal punishment to me.  I honestly don’t think there is more to say — either you see the wisdom in the verse (and I’m not saying I do) or you do not. (Leigh An: I don’t know if it’s talking about driving the foolishness away or the heart?  Oh, well.  We can’t get it all!)

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