Proverb for the Day 11:29 — Bad Boys – It will Cost Them!

He who brings trouble on his family will inherit only wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise.

This verse is typical Hebrew poetry. Called “parallelism,” the verse is divided into two parts. In this case, both parts speak about bad guys, maybe even referring to the same person.

The first guy brings trouble on his family – whether he be father, son or brother. His actions and choices make life difficult for family members.

Proverbs constantly reminds us of the consequences to our bad decisions. Here the man who troubles his own family will only inherit the wind. Maybe it was the direct result of his bad choices which left him with nothing, cut off from any family inheritance. Or it might have been God’s direct judgment, but this guy winds up with nothing but air.

The second man in the verse is called a fool and may even be the same guy in the first part of the verse. Either way, it says this fool will end up in a subservient role to a wise person. His bad choices will cost him, as well.

Proverb of the Day 10:2 — Treasures and Righteousness

Ill-gotten treasures are of no value, but righteousness delivers from death.

At first glance, these two lines do not seem to relate, but a closer examination indicates how well they connect. Treasure always sound like a good idea, but ill-gotten treasures are of no value. There are two reasons why:

1.) Because the people I ripped off to get that treasure might come after me, with or without the help of the police!
2.) God knows and promises that He won’t let me get away with anything.

The second half of the verse states that righteousness delivers from death. Righteousness focuses on my attitudes under God, not my actions. In the end, it won’t matter how much treasure I have piled up, who I know that can hook me up or how much good I did. My right relationship with God is all that can deliver me from death – physical or spiritual.

The first 3 Steps of the 12 Steps amplify this concept. Step 1 speaks of my powerlessness (treasure or not!). Step 2 says He has the power to do for me what I can’t do for myself (whether chemicals or anything else). Step 3 tells me to make a decision to let Him do in my life what I can’t do for myself – that’s righteousness.

Proverb of the Day 9:7-9 — Just Know with Whom You are Dealing!

“Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult; whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse. Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you. Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.

Verses 7-9: Spoken by Lady Wisdom, she offers suggestions about how to address certain characters–good and bad–and the results of interaction with each one.

Verse 7: Speaks about addressing issues with a “mocker” or a “wicked man”–efforts that will not lead to anything positive. Both will just respond to “correction” and “rebuke” with “insults” or “abuse.” Better to say nothing at all!

Verse 8: Rebuking a mocker is futile. These verses are sort of proverbial forerunners of Jesus’ statement to not “cast pearls before swine” (Mt 7:6). If we feel we must correct these guys, just know it will not go well.

Verses 8-9: On the flip side, are the good guys. “Rebuke a wise man” brings a totally opposite response – he will appreciate your efforts (“love you”). “Instruct” or offer him discipline and he will get even wiser.

Verse 9: Teach a “righteous man” and he will benefit from it. The effort will a good investment of my time, too.

One of the great truths of Proverbs is that sometimes we need to speak up and sometimes it is better to shut up. The key is just to know with whom we are dealing.

Proverb for the Day 8:12-14 — Lady Wisdom and Her Peeps!

“I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion. To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech; Counsel and sound judgment are mine; I have understanding and power.”

Lady Wisdom doesn’t operate in a vacuum, but is the leading character on a team of wonderful qualities who helps and empowers people through life. In verse 12, wisdom is associated with prudence, knowledge and discretion.

Wisdom also reminds us that “to fear the LORD is to hate evil” (:13). The connection between wisdom and the fear of the LORD is frequent in Proverbs (see 9:10. 15:33). Here’s the suggestion that hanging out with wisdom helps us fear the LORD, hate evil, pride, arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech. Wisdom will empower us over these attitudes and actions – and really help us become different people. Also, hanging with wisdom are counsel, sound judgment, understanding and power (:14). That’s pretty good company!

These three verses suggest wisdom has it all and can do whatever we need. What a great place to be!

Proverb for the Day 7:1-3 — Attitudes and Actions!

My son, keep my words and store up my commands within you. Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.

This chapter starts with words from father to his son, “Listen to what I am telling you, I know what I am talking about and it is for your own good.”  Most of us remember getting such a speech from our father, mother, grandmother, uncle or somebody who cared about us and wanted to be sure we made good choices in life. We also remember our attitude toward such advice!

And that is the real issue here. What is at stake is not just information, but the right attitude to be able to receive, appreciate and apply that information.  When that happens Proverbs is really working for us. In fact, the very way we respond to someone offering such a “listen to what I am telling you, it is for your own good” speech will say a lot about just how well we are progressing in wisdom and our spiritual walk.

So, with the focus being on attitude, note the verbs in these verses: “keep,” “store up,” “guard,” “bind them” and “write them.” This is attitude with focus, commitment and appropriate actions.    

The phrase “apple of your eye” (:2) does not mean fruit but comes from a word meaning “dark”– referring to the dark pupil at the center of our eyes. It suggests treating this advice as something special, sensitive and important.  

Binding this advice on the fingers (:3) speaks of external things – actions.  Writing them on the tablet of the heart (see also 3:3; 6:21) speaks of internal things – attitudes.  A common thought in Proverbs, this stuff is supposed to affect what I do and how I think.  


Proverb for the Day 6:1-4 — Free yourself!

6:1 My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, if you have struck hands in pledge for another, 2 if you have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth, 3 then do this, my son, to free yourself, since you have fallen into your neighbor’s hands: Go and humble yourself; press your plea with your neighbor. 4 Allow no sleep to your eyes, no slumber to your eyelids. 5 Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler.

These verses specifically offer a formula for dealing with the ancient activity of co-signing. But they also present general counsel for addressing any bad choices – by word (:2) or deed (:1). It calls for swift action, beginning with acknowledging that I have actually done it, humble myself, face the other party, plead my cause and free myself from my predicament (:3-5).

At issue in this passage is not even a sin, just a poor decision. And the advice offered is effective for both. Admit it, humble myself, face the other party and plead my case. These verses are actually the Biblical basis of Steps 8 and 9 of the 12 Steps. And just like with the Steps, when we get honest and do our part, we can count on Him to do His part and help us out.

Proverb for the Day 5:1-2 — Important Right Choices

1 My son, pay attention to my wisdom, turn your ear to my words of insight, 2 that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge.

Rather than a number of individual wise sayings, this whole chapter involves instruction from Solomon to his son (5:1) about appropriate and inappropriate relationships with the opposite sex. While a mother may have spoken the same way to her daughter this chapter is guy talk.

Here Solomon says the adulteress (first mentioned in 2:16-19) will say  sweet and smooth things to a man (:3), which will eventually be bitter and painfully sharp (:4). Ultimately, he will be sorry about the inappropriate decisions and actions he made (:9-14). Solomon advised his son that a lifelong commitment to the right woman is definitely the best choice (:15-19).

That Solomon felt the need to talk like this to his son (frequently: see also 6:24-35; 7:5-27), and by extension to any and all men, suggests it was an issue which needed to be addressed in their world. The bottom line was that a man’s ways are in full view of the LORD and He deals with us based on the choices we make (21-23). It’s as true today as it was back then.

Proverb for the Day 4:1 — I Really Should Pay Attention

Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction: pay attention and gain understanding. I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching.

Here Solomon addresses not “my son,” but “my sons.” While I understand this was a common technique of ancient wisdom literature, I still like to think of it in terms of his biological sons – guy talk. Of course, Solomon had a number of wives and numerous sons – all of which eventually got him in big trouble (1 Kings 11:1-15)! 

Here he tells his sons to listen carefully to what he is saying. Solomon is saying words all young guys hate to hear – listen to what I am telling you to do, it is for your own good! I wonder if they just rolled their eyes at each other as he was talking.

But Proverbs is all about the wisdom to see life from God’s point of view. If we are ready, even today, there are people in our lives who can offer us some instruction that will change our lives – and blessed is the person who can receive it.

Proverbs 3:5-6 — I Can’t, He Can, So Let Him!

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Probably two of the most memorized verses in the Bible, their message – which includes 3 commands and a promise – is so well known.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart” is the first command. If anything of eternal value and good is going to happen in our lives, it will begin with trusting God, and half-hearted faith won’t cut it.
“Lean not on your own understanding” is the second command. I call these two commands “mutually exclusive.” If we practice one, we will not be practicing the other – you can’t trust in the LORD and lean on your own understanding at the same time!
“Acknowledge Him in all your ways” is the third command. To experience God’s empowerment is to know (“acknowledge”) Him at work in every part of our lives. There is really no difference between the sacred and the secular. He is always there, working all the time. When we can see that on a regular basis we will experience His empowerment in a special way.
“He will make your paths straight” is the promise – in response to all this obedience! He will clear out a straight path ahead for us. God knows where we are, where we need to go, the best way to get there, and even what time we need to arrive!
These three commands are the Biblical basis of Steps 1-3 of the 12 Steps. Step One reminds us how powerless we are – no need to “lean on our own understanding.” Step Two reminds us that only God can do for us what we really need – so “trust in the LORD with all your heart.” Step 3 points to our need to commit our will and our lives to Him – “acknowledge Him in all our ways.”
I have a shortened version of these 3 commands and the first 3 Steps: I can’t, He can, so let Him. It’s honestly that simple!

Proverb for the Day 2:6 – We Can Have it All

For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

At Helping Up Mission, Wisdom is one of the 26 Character Qualities on which we make a weekly focus.  Our definition of wisdom is “seeing life from God’s point of view.” Such a concept is not only possible, but Proverbs makes clear is readily accessible from God, the supreme source of all wisdom. 

Yet throughout Proverbs, wisdom is regularly and intimately associated with knowledgeand understanding.  While wisdom seems to be “the first among equals,” generally mentioned first in relation to the other two, they are regularly mentioned together.  

Like bananas growing in bunches and grapes in clusters, so knowledge and understanding come along with wisdom.  When we get one, we also have access to the other two (see also 24:3-4). Sounds like a great way to live!