22nd September 2014, mgh
1) Life Advice
The development of one's personal character is also explored, such as the control of anger and one's conduct in difficult circumstances. There is the call to develop wisdom, mercy, kindness and justice in dealing with the issues of life, and the need to avoid pride and foolishness especially in the choice of companions.
Knowledge of God
A recurring theme, which will be considered here, and, that is easily overlooked in the book of Proverbs is the relationship that we should have with our Creator and there are many times in the Proverbs that we are reminded of this. The Proverbs also reveal the great plan with mankind that is a consistent theme throughout the Bible. The opening Proverb deals with the need to fear Yahweh, which is the starting point for knowledge and ultimately wisdom of Yahweh's purpose with mankind. However, there are many who reject this advice and refuse instruction.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.... For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: (Proverbs 1 :7, 29)
Here we are told that the “fear of Yahweh” has the reward of knowledge and an understanding of God that is revealed in the written word so readily available today.
Then shall you understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2 :5-6)
This wisdom is not to be compared with expectations of fame and fortune in this life, which is what many strive to achieve, as wealth cannot be compared to the hope of the faithful. Wealth may be the great dream, but sufficient for life can be of greater importance in the Creator's scheme than an abundance of wealth in this life, and which frequently brings “trouble”..
Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith. (Proverbs 15:16)
Our world is greatly troubled by evil, wars, immorality, violence, bloodshed and murders. If men feared Yahweh the wise and prudent would reject evil, but there are few that fear Yahweh. Proverbs 16 and 23 show that if mankind feared Yahweh, iniquity would be “purged”, or done away with.
By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.(Proverbs 16:6)
Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long. (Proverbs 23:17)
For those who fear Yahweh there is an amazing hope of security and life. There is ultimately “the fountain of life” and an escape from the “snares of death” and the hope of resurrection.
The fear of the LORD prolongs days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened.(Proverbs 10:27)
The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.(Proverbs 14:27)
The fear of the LORD tends to life: and he that has it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.(Proverbs 19:23)
The LORD will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish: but he casts away the substance of the wicked....The blessing of the LORD, it makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.(Proverbs 10:3, 22)
A Process to Wisdom
The following quotation presents a process that the wise will develop. It is a process that begins with knowledge, that gives an understanding of how to conduct oneself in the issues of life, and to determine right from wrong. The result will lead to salvation, which is that which “shall keep thee”.
He lays up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly. He keeps the paths of judgement, and preserves the way of his saints. Then shall you understand righteousness, and judgement, and equity; yea, every good path. When wisdom enters into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee: (Proverbs 2 :7-11)
Not only do the wise gain understanding but they are protected and watched over.
For Yahweh shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken. ... For the froward is abomination to Yahweh: but his secret is with the righteous. The curse of Yahweh is in the house of the wicked: but he blesses the habitation of the just.(Proverbs 3 :26...32,33)
The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.(Proverbs 15:3)
The contrast between the good and the wicked is captured in Proverb 15. The wise person accepts instruction and even reproof. Their prayers are also heard. One of the characteristics of those with understanding is ultimately humility and reverence towards the Creator.
The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD: but the words of the pure are pleasant words. He that is greedy of gain troubles his own house; but he that hates gifts shall live.
The heart of the righteous studies to answer: but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things. Yahweh is far from the wicked: but he hears the prayer of the righteous.
The light of the eyes rejoices the heart: and a good report makes the bones fat. The ear that hears the reproof of life abides among the wise. He that refuses instruction despises his own soul: but he that hears reproof gets understanding. The fear of Yahweh is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility. (Proverbs 15 :26-33)
There exists an educational and developmental process in the thoughtful person and an interaction between the person and Yahweh, because Yahweh ponders the heart.
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Yahweh ponders the hearts.(Proverbs 21:2)
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.(Proverbs 9:9)
Further benefits are for those whose ways please Yahweh such as in dealings with any enemies and even in guidance in the paths of life, as we see in Proverb 16.
When a man's ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right. A man's heart devises his way: but the LORD direct his steps. A divine sentence is in the lips of the king: his mouth transgresses not in judgement. A just weight and balance are the LORD'S: all the weights of the bag are his work. (Proverbs 16:7-11)
Proverbs 17 goes on to bring out the analogy of the refining of metals to parallel the development of character. People are obviously placed in situations in life that will test their true faith and understanding.
The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD tries the hearts. (Proverbs 17:3)
In All Creation
Yahweh is powerful and his wisdom can be seen in all the earth and especially in his creation. The quotation from Proverbs 3 reminds us of the opening chapter of the Bible, in which the details of creation are given and in chapter 20 the intricacies of the physical qualities of mankind. The ear and eye are referred to as displaying the wonders of God's handiwork.
The LORD by wisdom has founded the earth; by understanding has he established the heavens.(Proverbs 3 :19)
The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD has made even both of them. (Proverbs 20:12)
Yahweh has a purpose. The following group of verses shows that there will be judgement and punishment on the wicked. Evil and wickedness are an abomination to Yahweh and will be overthrown.
(Proverbs 16:4-5) The LORD has made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.
He that justifies the wicked, and he that condemns the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD.(Proverbs 17:15)
Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee.(Proverbs 20: 22)
There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD.(Proverbs 21:30)
The eyes of the LORD preserve knowledge, and he overthrows the words of the transgressor. (Proverbs 22:12)
Fret not thyself because of evil men, neither be thou envious at the wicked; For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out.(Proverbs 24: 19-20)
There is advice given on how to deal with those that one might consider as an enemy. It may be advice that goes against natural human thinking, but it has 'a reward'.
If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: For you shall heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee. (Proverbs 25: 21-22)
There is a quotation which specifically mentions women and is worthy of inclusion and commends again those who fear and respect Yahweh.
Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that fears the LORD, she shall be praised.(Proverbs 31: 30)
The ark had finally come to the city of David and David, the father of Solomon prayed before the people and a section of this prayer follows. It demonstrates David's great faith and mentions so many of the aspects of devotion which we have seen passed on to Solomon in the Proverbs. It also speaks of a day to come when Yahweh arises to judge the earth so that finally there will be peace for this strife ridden world.
For all the gods of the people are idols: but the LORD made the heavens. Glory and honour are in his presence; strength and gladness are in his place.
Give unto the LORD, ye kindreds of the people, give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.
Fear before him, all the earth: the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved. Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice: and let men say among the nations, The LORD reigns. Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof: let the fields rejoice, and all that is therein.
Then shall the trees of the wood sing out at the presence of the LORD, because he cometh to judge the earth.
O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endures for ever. And say ye, Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather us together, and deliver us from the heathen, that we may give thanks to thy holy name, and glory in thy praise. Blessed be the LORD God of Israel for ever and ever. And all the people said, Amen, and praised the LORD. (I Chronicles 16 :26-36)
In the book of Proverbs, we are given good advice and a vision of what is acceptable behaviour and worship of our Creator. There is also the vision of judgement upon the wicked and salvation for the faithful. The vision is of some of the ways in which we can develop an attitude of dependence on and a character that is pleasing to our Heavenly Father, because,
Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps the law, happy is he (Proverbs 29 :18)
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