SWEET! Proverb for the Day 16:24

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones

“Gracious words” are powerful…and “honeycombs” are awesome! This wise saying compares the “sweet” and “healing” qualities of both.

Bees create both honey and the honeycomb wax from nectar. They’re both “sweet” to the taste and have both been touted for their “healing” properties, in antiquity and today.

“Gracious” — pleasant, delightful, even beautiful — “words” can also have a powerful positive impact on body (“bones”) and “soul.”

Hopefully, we all know the feeling of having our souls sweetened by the pleasant and sincere words of another. And, today, scientific research can even offer empirical data indicating the physically healthful benefits these same words can have on our bodies.

This proverb’s a great reminder. It probably is a good idea to eat some honey for our health. But we better not eat too much (see 25:16)!

We should also pass along some “gracious words.” They’ll make someone feel even better than honey does!

And I’ll bet it’ll make us feel pretty good, too!

I Got This Great Idea… Proverb for the Day 15:22

Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed

This wise saying isn’t about any particular characters. Instead, it’s about things that matter to us  — plans and success!

“Plans” (in the sense of “thinking up new ideas”) can either “fail” (literally “break”) or “succeed” (literally rise up, stand up or be established). The thin line of difference between the two is amazingly simple — “counsel” and “advisers.”

Sounds like good advice to me!

But I’ll also add a few thoughts of my own.

First, at the root of the “counsel” or “advisers” issue is whether we have the humility to realize we don’t have it all figured out. To admit I need more than my own best thinking is absolutely the right place to be.

Second, the best plan I could ever have is not one I’ve created — but the one God’s already made for me.

      “For I know the plans I have planned for you,” declares the LORD. “Plans to prosper you and 
not to harm you. Plans to give you a future and a hope.”

As far as plans go, it doesn’t get any better than Jeremiah 29:11!

And, really, the best counsel or advisers I can ever have in my life will be that which helps me simply stay true to the awesome plan He already has for me!

There Will Be Bowing… Proverb for the Day 14:19

Evildoers will bow down in the presence of the good, and the wicked at the gates of the righteous

While most proverbs talk about daily life — here and now — this wise saying focuses on what’s up ahead. While He’s not mentioned, this verse is just God’s reminder about how things will eventually be — when the dust all settles and the smoke all clears. 
In parallel phrases of Hebrew poetry, four regular characters of Proverbs are contrasted — “evildoers” and “the good” as well as “the wicked” and “the righteous.” There’s no great new insights here…just a couple reminders.

While the term “evildoers” focuses on the bad they do, the Hebrew word is more about who they are. Their thoughts and attitudes are morally corrupt — and their actions are just a natural follow-through of how they think.

This verse says, in the end, they “will bow down in the presence of the good.” That means, when the smoke all clears, “the good” are still standing tall and “evildoers will bow in their presence.”

While a synonymous term, “the wicked” is more focused on their legal guilt for violating God’s standards. Again, it starts with bad attitudes and thinking…which again leads to inappropriate actions.

“The wicked” will be bowing “at the gates of the righteous.” When the dust all settles, “the righteous” and their stuff (their “gates”) are still standing strong in the face of the now-bowing wicked.

Sometimes, bad people seem to get away with things and we wonder what we should do about it.

Probably the best thing we can do is just keep ourselves on that “good” and “righteous” path. Because, when that day comes, we’ll be among the last ones standing!

To Diss or Not To Diss…Shouldn’t be the Question! — Proverb for the Day 11:12

Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense, but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.

This wise saying describes the attitudes and actions of two very different kinds of people. The first “derides their neighbor” and the second “has understanding.”
Today, we would say it this way about the first person “whoever disrespects their friend.” In the Biblical world, people didn’t get out much — so their neighbors were their friends and their friends were their neighbors. 
This person was dissing his or her friend. Friends aren’t supposed to do that to friends…so it’s no surprise that this person “has no sense!”
The second person in our proverb “has understanding” or insight or discernment. In fact, they could have the same neighbor/friend who does the same thing but this person’s “understanding/ discernment” helps them to think the situation through and he or she “holds their tongue.”
They considered the situation and decided to just let it go.
There are times to speak up and there are times to shut up. The one with “no sense” will seldom get it right, while the one “who has understanding” will usually do pretty well. 
So…as a guy who does run his mouth — and has been known to talk a little trash on occasion — I think I’m getting the message. It’s a good idea to generally “hold my tongue.”
We have a similar wise saying here at Helping Up Mission — “think it…don’t say it!”

Broccoli, Discipline & Correction — Proverb for the Day 10:17

Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray
I think this wise saying has real value for our world today. At issue is our response to “discipline” and “correction.”
From both my upbringing and theological training I’ve tended to see both of these terms in a very negative light — it had to be punitive. Although, I’ll also admit, I just might not have understood the message as it was being communicated to me!
But an examination of both the Hebrew terms for “discipline” and “correction,” as well as a look at how they’re used in the Old Testament, suggests a slightly different take on the subject — at least for me.
Our English word “discipline” comes from a Latin word for training — it’s the same root for our English word “disciple.” Discipline is not so much about punishment as it is about training and education. 
In fact, the Hebrew term translated “discipline” here is just as frequently translated “instruction” in the Old Testament.
Can a training regimen or rigorous instruction feel like punishment? Absolutely! But it’s not really about that. 
And, any of us who won’t receive “discipline” well, will also have trouble experiencing “the way of life” as it’s supposed to be.
“Correction” is more about being “called to account” — being “rebuked”. That’s really not the same as punishment, either. It’s not a beat-down, or even having our knuckles smacked with a ruler!
Today we actually call the concept of these two terms “tough love” and “accountability.” And no one will do well in life without them. 
So — while I still don’t really appreciate “discipline” or “correction” all that much — it’s actually very good for me. Like broccoli…which I’m not that fond of, either!

He’s All That! Proverb for the Day 9:10

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. 

The fear of the LORD” was one of the first concepts introduced in Proverbs (1:7). There it was stated to be “the beginning of knowledge,” here it’s “the beginning of wisdom.”

“The fear of the LORD” is foundational to both good theology and a meaningful daily life. A proper grasp of what it really means will give us empowerment.

“The fear the LORD” is really much more than just being afraid of God (although a bit of that is appropriate). Instead, it’s more of an attitude of “reverence” — being “in awe” of God because He is so “awesome.”

But, at its core, “the fear of the LORD” is simply the ability to see and appreciate God as He really is. That includes all the attributes of His “awesomeness.”

In theology, this involves His moral attributes (love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, patience, justice, and righteousness) and His non-moral attributes (the three “omnis” and immutability).

Seeing God as He really is will help us to begin recognizing His greatness…and that should make an impact on how I operate day by day.

Typical of ancient Hebrew poetry, this verse parallels the phrases “the fear of the LORD” and “knowledge of the Holy One” (like 1:7). “Wisdom” and “understanding,” also, are mentioned in parallel.

While “knowledge of the Holy One” is not as prominent a phrase in Proverbs, it carries the same idea. And, when we see and know God as He really is, we really will understand some things!

So, if I can grasp all this and realize He’s all that — I’ll never be the same again!

You Want a Piece of This? Proverb for the Day 8:17

I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me. 

This entire chapter is God’s Wisdom speaking — personified as a woman (:1, 12). While calling to all people (:4), Lady Wisdom particularly addresses “you who are simple” and “you who are foolish” (:5).

Throughout the chapter she discusses the benefits for anyone choosing to develop a relationship with her. Our verse explains how it works — “I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.”

Wisdom says, if we want her, she’ll be there for us! God’s Wisdom makes a strong commitment to those committed to her.

We define Wisdom as “seeing life from God’s point of view.” When we love this concept and seek to have it part of our lives…we are so hooked up!

So, while Wisdom is actually out there in the streets (2-3) available to us all (:4), we will have to decide that we need her help and consciously accept it.

Of course, in this chapter, Wisdom isn’t a person — but a character quality that is totally available to us if we want it.

And if we do, Wisdom will show up and make a significant difference in our lives – just take a look at the next four verses (:18-21)!

What a way to live!

Lady Wisdom…She Be Fine! Proverb for the Day 4:6

Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. 

This verse is part of Solomon’s recounting to his sons (:1) what his father, David, once said to him (:3-9). Verse 6 offers instruction to focus on “wisdom” and the benefits of such a commitment in parallel poetic statements.

As a father-son message, David referenced wisdom in the feminine – Lady Wisdom. He told his son to appreciate wisdom as he would a good woman.

“Do not forsake wisdom…love her” is solid relationship advice for anyone. Treating another who greatly matters to us in this manner will create an environment for their help and support in return.

Yet, we can’t always count on someone else to be there to “protect” and “watch over” us. On the other hand, God’s Wisdom will never fail to be there!

So — if we have someone important in our lives — practicing this verse in that relationship will set things up to go pretty well.

But even better, lets practice this relationship advice with Lady Wisdom!

There’s no better place to direct our focused love and commitment. And in doing so, we’ll be better equipped for any and all other relationships that really matter to us. 

Spiritual Street Cred — Proverb for the Day 3:3-4

3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. 

This is the second two-verse couplet of father-to-son commands and promises in chapter three. It focuses on two of the most famous character qualities in the Old Testament — “love and faithfulness.”

Dad’s first command says, “Let love and faithfulness never leave you.” It suggests his son’s responsibility to make appropriate decisions which keep these qualities close to him.

The next two commands explain how. “Bind them around your neck” (see also 6:21) offers the imagery of a necklace.

Generally worn to make us more attractive to others, a necklace of “love and faithfulness” will set us up to look good and be more appreciated by others. But a necklace is external, just what people see on the outside — like our actions.

The final command internalizes things, going deeper and making it more permanent — “write them on the tablet of your heart.”

An ancient “tablet” would have been either been carved from stone or formed from clay. The “writing” would have involved “engraving” or “inscribing” — permanently etching “love and faithfulness” into my heart and soul.

The overall direction of these three commands in clear. Father advises son to hook up closely with two great qualities (“love and faithfulness”). They’ll empower both his actions (“neck”– outside) and attitudes (“heart” — inside).

The verse ends with a promise. Following dad’s directives, we’ll “win favor and a good name in the sight of God (our spiritual relationship)…and man”(our social relationships). Sounds like pretty good outcomes, a pretty good way to live!

With these two qualities etched deeply into my life, I’ll think and do well, looking good in the eyes of others. Of course, God will know that it’s in the very fabric of my being.

Here in East Baltimore, it would be understood as “spiritual street cred!”

Did You Get That? Proverb for the Day 2:1

My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you 

Chapter 2 continues the focus of Proverbs 1 (:8, 10, 15) with father still addressing “my son.” This verse is the first in a series of three conditional “if”-directives (:1-4) which lead to a promised “then”-result (:5).

Our wise saying makes it clear that this son has the choice and responsibility of deciding if he’s going to “accept my words and store up my commands within you” — or not! But he should also understand that there will be benefits or consequences with each decision.

Every day all of us also have that same responsibility — who am I going to listen to and what am I willing to receive from others? There are plenty of options and an equal number of benefits or consequences based on our choices.

So today it would be really important for me to understand the value of being open to hear what others are saying, especially those who are invested in me and my success. Hear them and then decide the appropriateness of accepting and applying their advice for me at this time.

The result can have an important impact on my physical and spiritual well-being — today… tomorrow…for a lifetime…maybe, even for eternity!