Vs. 2, “and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars.’ Yet you have disobeyed me. Why have you done this?” Sadly, because Israel did not drive out and defeat the pagan nations, this would bring upon consequences from the LORD (vs. 1-5). Not only did Israel spare the Canaanites, they began to adopt their pluralistic religions. These nations would become a thorn and trap for Israel (vs. 3). After the first generation of those who entered the Promised Land passed away, the new generation did not follow in their heritage (vs. 6-10). How sad to see that Israel as a whole people would begin to forget God. Because they turned to other gods, The LORD allowed them to be defeated (vs. 11-15). But the compassion of God heard them in their distress (vs. 15). So, here we see God raised up judges (deliverers) who would help not only deliver them in military disputes, but also help provide counsel for Israel (vs. 16-23). It’s important to note that these judges were on a more local scale rather than the nation as a whole. Sadly, the cycle of their sin would plummet Israel into continued disobedience. Yet, God’s mercy triumphed over judgment (James 2:13).
Regarding application…God’s Compassion. Vs. 16, “Then the LORD raised up judges, who saved them out of the hands of these raiders.” God was disciplining Israel for their actions. Yet, God in His infinite compassion and mercy would still reach out to His people. There is a part of me that is angered to think that they were taking God for granted. Yet, the danger for all of us today is to think that we are not like them. I’m reminded of the passage Proverbs 3:12 and Hebrews 12:6, “God disciplines those He loves.” Question: Is God disciplining you today? How so? Take time to search the things deep in your heart that you might be putting before God. While we may not fall into pluralism, there are other “idols” we may be lifting up (money, relationships, status, etc.) Lord, may we be a people that begin to see your love and compassion more and more!
Note: We will move forward to the New Testament again with the book of Galatians tomorrow
Vs. 1, “The sayings of King Lemuel—an inspired utterance his mother taught him.” We are not quite sure who Lemuel is, some biblical scholars believe it is another name of King Solomon. What an impressive wealth of wisdom King Lemuel’s mother had! Her admonishment was contrary to what Kings of the day would have lived. Stay away from many women and literally stay away from all alcohol! Not one ounce of beer is even okay because it can impair the judgment and testimony of your life (Love it). She then goes on to describe the virtues of a Godly wife Notice how important her role is! She is to be hard worker, Godly, prayerful, supportive, helping protect, be a wise counselor, and faithful to her husband!
Regarding application…Value in Godliness. Vs. 30, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” So often we look on what’s on the outside instead of the inside. This wonderful passage about a Godly woman/wife is applicable for everyone. Young women, aspire to be such a woman of character and strength. Young men, if you want to be successful and walk with the Lord…choose wisely your wife! I thank God that He brought me Hyojin because as many of you know, she is such a huge support and encouragement to me! Marriage is a about love and partnership with one goal in mind: Serve the Lord! I pray each of you would consider carefully the woman/man of your dreams. Do they line up with what God values in a relationship?
Vs. 4, “Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Whose hands have gathered up the wind? Who has wrapped up the waters in a cloak? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is the name of his son? Surely you know.” Though we are not sure who Agur is (some believe he was a foreigner), it is evident he has wisdom in the Lord. He realizes that our wisdom is foolishness to God. I was quite impressed with Agur’s view on desiring to not be rich and not be poor, but just to have enough for daily life (vs. 7-9). He reminds us that the vast creation of God is so amazing and hard to understand (vs. 18-19). As the passage ends, Agur admonishes us with a mix of lessons on how to live this life (vs. 15-33).
Regarding application…Wisdom in Saving. Vs. 25, “Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer.” Having worked at the bank now of 7 years…I understand much better the value of those who save. There are too many of us who want to spend, spend and spend some more. We live in a commercialism/consumerism society where we always want more. As many of you are young who are reading this, don’t learn the hard way. Start valuing the concept of saving and being frugal with your money. As parents used to say, “It doesn’t grow on trees.” Store up your money and save so you can be a provider for your family, tithe to the church and help the less fortunate!
Vs. 23, “Pride brings a person low,but the lowly in spirit gain honor.” We are reminded of the contrast between prideful and wicked vs. the humble and Godly. When people or a group are wicked, struggles abound (think Adolf Hitler for extreme)…but when a Godly leader comes they can bring peace (think Josiah). Granted, evil is evil and sometimes people won’t be positively influenced (vs. 9). We are to be a people who are not scared of the rebuke of this world (vs. 25). Who cares how they judge us or the fact that we may be rejected. We have something that is far better than what the world can give.
Regarding application…Fair Chance. Vs. 13, “The poor and the oppressor have this in common:The LORD gives sight to the eyes of both.” God is fair…even more…God is just. We live in a world where there are two people groups. One that goes to Heaven…One that goes to Hell. The righteous and the unrighteous. The poor and the oppressor. Yet, God has given sight to both and the opportunity for everyone to know Him. God’s will and justice will be done…the challenge for us: Do we want to be a part of it? Do we want to choose wisdom and hear it’s call in our lives? Do we want to be a part of the solution rather the problem? There are people in this life who have been oppressors, so let’s do our best to reach out to them and help their spiritual blindness to be healed!
Vs. 26, “Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.” By now, if you have been reading along with us…you have realized there is many ways we can walk in wisdom. Each morsel of truth gives us general ways to live this life. We have the natural tendency to be rebellious (vs. 2). When we choose to turn away from God, we are actually promoting evil (vs. 4). If we are not careful, our lack of living for God can bring about wicked leaders in government and even in the churches (vs. 12).
Regarding application…Less is More. Vs. 6, “Better the poor whose walk is blamelessthan the rich whose ways are perverse.” Our thinking is upside down. So often we think if we have more in this life it will be better. Money & possessions does not bring about salvation or draw you closer to God. We should keep a humble outlook upon life and not get too wrapped up in thinking more is better. Even in the church…more money and more things isn’t always a good thing. Live each day with a humble attitude and let God be your true provider. Do your best in your schools and workplaces to live a life that glorifies God!
Vs. 6, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted,but an enemy multiplies kisses.” More than half of the verses deal with friendships and relationships. Think of the friendships that God has blessed you with. Good friends…Godly friends are not always easy. For true friends will speak truth in love. True friends won’t always say what you want or agree with you when you are wrong. True friends will be faithful to each other and help the other to grow (vs. 17, one of the most popular verses in Proverbs). In fact, we see the value of a friends can be as bonding as family (vs. 10).
Regarding application…Worrying About Tomorrow. Vs. 1, “Do not boast about tomorrow,for you do not know what a day may bring.” This reminds of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6 about this same topic. When we are so worried about tomorrow, we can forget about the concerns of today. As we venture into 2011, undoubtedly…there are concerns with the coming year. But this is a wonderful reminder 8 days into the New Year that we should not boast about or worry about the future. Our future is decided, so let us live in the present and do our best to be a light to the world around us!
Vs. 4, “Remove the dross from the silver,and a silversmith can produce a vessel.” Silver gains value once the dross (scum and imperfections) have been wiped away. Likewise, as we continue to walk with the Lord…we must wipe away the dross in our lives. King Solomon understood how important it was to live a life that was Godly (vs 1-7). It is not easy to live a life that goes against the nature of this world. We should a lifestyle that is evident to all of our neighbors (vs. 8-19). And when others wrong us…we should not respond with evil, but good (vs. 21-22).
Regarding application…Being Humble. Vs. 6-7, “Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence,and do not claim a place among his great men;it is better for him to say to you, “Come up here,”than for him to humiliate you before his nobles.” Jesus would remind us of this concept from the Gospel of Luke about humbling ourselves. The moment we get big-headed in this life…God has His ways of humbling us. While we are to have Godly self-esteem…too much esteem is pride. The most humbling moment of my life was my high school wrestling downfall in the state tournament. Of course, that is not the only time…but the others are probably too embarrassing to admit Let’s continue to live this like with a humble attitude so others will not see us, but rather Jesus!
Vs. 3, “By wisdom a house is built,and through understanding it is established.” Question: What makes a wise person? So many times we hear about how we should pray and ask for wisdom…thankfully, God has answers to what it looks like. Wisdom is encourage rather than criticize (vs. 1-4). Wisdom seeks to help those in need and who cannot fight for themselves (vs. 11-12). Wisdom does not delight when an enemy has experienced tough times (vs. 17-18). Wisdom does not worry when the wicked seem to always win (vs. 19-20). Wisdom does not seek revenge (vs. 28-29). Wisdom does not hope for an easy lazy life (vs. 30).
Regarding application…Spiritual Honey. Vs. 13-14, “Eat honey, my son, for it is good; honey from the comb is sweet to your taste. Eat honey, my son, for it is good;honey from the comb is sweet to your taste.” We love our sugar and sweets…and honey back in the day was their version of sweets! Honey can be both a good thing and a bad thing when it comes to biblical illustrations. But in this case, honey was compared to wisdom! Just as honey (sweet food) attracts people, so too our wisdom in God can attract people too. We are to eat spiritual honey in the form of the Bible, prayer and Holy Spirit! So as the new year continues…pour some more sweet honey in your life!
Vs. 6, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” The best way to become a wise person is to be trained in the ways of God! The reason we see so much chaos in this sinful world is because there are so many people who have parents who do not raise their children wisely. Parents don’t want to discipline, parents don’t want to take the spiritual responsibility. I don’t have children yet…and I can only imagine how difficult it must be. Pray young students that you would be good child to your parents and one day strive to be a good parent.
Regarding application…Losing Your Temper. Vs. 24-25, “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.” We must be very careful to not be a person who is easily angered. Also, we must be careful to not associate with people who are like this. Is God just narrowing it down to people who lose their temper? NO! Many of you have chosen friends based on similar interests, maybe because their “Cool”, etc… But, God has a different measure we must have when it comes to those we call friends. Of course, we should never alienate people…we are to reach out to everyone…yet, those whom are close to you should be fellow believers!
Vs. 1, “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler;whoever is led astray by them is not wise.” Wisdom comes in many forms, and we are reminded in our verse here the unwise drink. Our judgement in all things is impaired when we choose to drink, yet so many Christians find new ways to justify why its okay. Throughout this chapter we see consequences of unwise decisions. Finding ways to argue (vs. 3), Thinking too highly of yourself (vs. 9), Gossiping too much (vs. 19)…even sleeping too much (vs. 4) is an unwise choice!
Regarding application…Pay Back. Vs. 22, “Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!” Wait for the LORD, and he will avenge you.” When we are wronged…it’s natural to want to retaliate and avenge the injustice. Just throw a bunch of small children in a room with less toys then there are children. Very soon you will see the nature of human beings. One child may have a toy and another grabs it from them. Before you know it, the one who has been wronged will pay back. How odd that as life progresses the same nature follows along but only shows itself in different ways. There will times in your life when a teacher, friend, relative will wrong you. Don’t pay back wrong for wrong. God has our back!