Day 184 (July 3): Agur’s proverbs, sayings of King Lemuel, characteristics of a noble wife

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 30-31

Questions & Observations

Q. (Proverbs 30:1): Any info on Agur?

A. Not really.  The information we are given indicates he is most likely not an Israelite, but rather possibly a wise man or sage such as Job and his friends.

Q. (30:4): Here, Agur mentions that God has a son.  Isn’t this the first mention of that so far?   I am surprised that the fact is told here.

A. Agur doesn’t have in mind the person of Jesus.  We don’t know exactly what he is referring to here, but my suspicion is that he is asking about a king or ruler.  In those days, kings often declared themselves to be the “sons of gods,” so that would make the “son” in question to be a ruler who leads with God’s blessing.

O. (30:6): I was going to ask what happens to those who add to God’s words or twist them to fit their understanding.  But then, I thought, I don’t think it matters.  Just, don’t do it.  That’s all I need to know.

Q. (30:11): I used to know of a guy who blamed his “non-career” on his parents for not pushing him.  I agree that parents should guide you, but how long can you hold them accountable for your life? And, as far as blaming parents for how a person turns out, I do feel deep remorse for those people who were verbally and physically abused.  How can they save themselves if no one ever directs them to God?  Is their fate dependent upon other Christians?  Or, will God have mercy on their souls.  Deep thought here: We put wicked people down — drug users, thieves, bullies, and other bad apples — but should we be to blame for not dragging them out of their dark hole?

A. There’s no simple answer to that question.  Our responsibility is to faithfully carry out whatever we believe that God is leading us to do.  That’s it — though I realize the profound nature of the statement.  But part of that leading is often how we are to live and raise and care for other people.  If we are a parent, then we are responsible for teaching that child the right way to live, and doing so in a wholesome way (i.e. not being abusive as we teach).

When it comes to other people and the way that life has treated them, I think of a scene from a book called The Shack, by William Young.  The main character in the story, Mac, has an opportunity to interact with God after a man has done a great personal harm to his family.  Mac speaks with God about confronting this man, and seeing him punished for what he has done to his family.  God expresses sympathy to Mac for his situation, but asks him, “what about the abusive father who turned an innocent child into the monster who harmed your family?  Should he be punished as well?  What about the father who did it to him?  How far back do you want to go with the brokenness and punishment?  Should we go all the way back to the Garden?”  I was struck by the power of these thoughts: we can never know what a person has been through to make them the person that we see at any given moment.  Our job, even among the most unlovable, is to love them the best that we can, and seek God’s guidance in helping with their healing.  Being the hands and feet of Christ is sometimes a very difficult calling.  God very likely will ask us to do some things that will be uncomfortable, including interacting with the “bad” people in life.  But those individuals, while broken, are just as loved by God as you or I as “good” people.  It is up to us to choose to love those whom society has declared not worthy of it.  I freely confess that is much easier to write than to do, but it is the calling of the One who spent His lifetime in service to the poor and outcast.  Our job is to follow where He leads.

Q. (30:15b, 18, 21, 29): Is this repetitive phrase a style of writing for those times?

A. Its most likely a rhetorical style, yes.

Q. (31:9): I agree with this, but in our world, it’s so hard to speak up for someone in our bureaucratic social structure.  If we want to help someone, how can we figure out whom to talk to help them?  I know this is for Israel, but I would think it would apply to us today.  I feel it’s more like, if the opportunity arises to standup for someone, then we do it.

A. I would certainly agree that the “entry” into caring for someone might be tricky, but I suspect if you looked around a little and did some service for the poor, you would find opportunities to do the things that Lemuel is talking about.  Most of us don’t even KNOW a person who is that poor or in need (sometimes that’s because people hide it well, but I think oftentimes its because we really don’t pay attention to such things.  But, part of the way we can live this out is to interact with people who are in great need, and determine ways to help them on a daily basis, including going to “bat” for them when the opportunity presents itself.  The opportunities are there, we just have to be willing to get our hands a little dirty and dig in.

Q. (31:10-31): This description sounds like Wonder Woman.  I hope they are giving lots of examples of how a wife can be perfect, not that one woman does all of these things.  She would not sleep!

A. The chapter makes no claim that it is an easy task, which, I suppose, is what makes the wife so priceless to her husband.  I suspect it was meant as a standard to seek after, not a description of an actual woman, but you never know.

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