A Proverb a Day devotions are now posted at DMC Resources.
A Proverb A Day
To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth-- Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles. Proverbs 1:2-6
We have reached the end of Proverbs, 613 postings in all. The blog will remain on line, though I will not be adding more. My intention is to eventually repost the devotions on a website and will post a notification of when that is done. To find a specific proverb devotion, type in the verse reference in the Search Blog window at the upper left hand corner. Enclose the verse in quotations, for example: "Proverbs 12:22".
My prayer is that these meditations on the wise sayings of Scripture will enhance your growth in knowledge and wisdom, and aid you in your walk along the path of righteousness.
The Fear of the Lord
For Thursday, April 24, 2008
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 "Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all."
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.
In the praise of the wife by her husband and children, we learn the real source of her virtues. She is a person "who fears the Lord." And so the end of Proverbs leads us back to the beginning: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge..." (1:7).
Do you desire to possess the wisdom of Proverbs? Then fear the Lord. You may study philosophy; you may gain much experience; you may learn from many wise people. But if you do not fear the Lord, you remain a common fool.
For the Lord is your Maker. You exist and continue to be sustained in life by him. He has made you for himself, to glorify him. To live without this knowledge is to live in ignorance and purposelessly.
And the Lord is the one Redeemer. Others may save you from foolish choices and from wicked people, but only the Lord can save you from your sinfulness. To live "wisely" in this world and yet die in your sinful state is the greatest folly of all. Only the Lord Jesus Christ can save you from such a fate.
As we have learned from Proverbs, the Lord will judge the wicked. Because he is righteous and just, he will not let sin go unpunished. As we have learned, he sees everyone and everything. Fear the Lord.
Fear the Lord and know the joy of that fear. For it brings blessing. It lifts one's eyes to the glories of God; it puts our lives in true perspective so that we see God's holiness and majesty which humbles us. It then fills us with the wonder of God's mercy and love. And so we are then moved and enabled to live wisely as this excellent wife. And so we are to know even the more amazing praise that will be given us from the Lord whom we fear on the Day of his return - "Well done, good and faithful servant... Enter into the joy of your Master" (Matthew 25:21).
For Wednesday, April 23, 2008
20 She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
The woman of wisdom engages in productive work for good purposes. Many people are productive so that they may enjoy wealth for themselves. Many work hard so that they can attain fame, wealth, and power for themselves. The wise woman works that she may help the poor and needy; that she may provide for her household. She is a blessing to her husband. Furthermore, her good work is not limited to the ability of her hands, but she teaches with wisdom; she teaches others what she has learned, what it is to be kind; she teaches the joy of doing good for others.
Do you work with the right motivation? Do you work so that you might bless others through your productivity? Are you kind? Do those who work with you or for you attest to the good spirit in which you work and treat them? Is your family blessed by your work - both in benefitting from your productivity and in being touched by the spirit in which you labor for them? Can your family trust you to provide, whether that "provision" be income or managing the home? Can people who depend on you know that you will come through for them, and that you will do so with a kind spirit? Such is the model that the excellent wife presents for us.
For Tuesday, April 22, 2008
13 She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
14 She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
15 She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17 She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
What is the excellent wife like? She is industrious. She works with willing hands, making good use of her time to provide food and be productive. How different she is from the sloth who declares, "There is a lion in the street!" and so does not get out of bed.
And so she is a model for us. How do you use your time? Are you productive? Are you able at the end of the day to look back with satisfaction at the work you have done. For work - productive work - is good. The work will be based on your circumstances. You may be delivering products or making products. You may be teaching or writing. You may be raising children or training to perform. Whatever the case, you are using your time wisely so as to be productive.
Again, your circumstances affect what productivity may mean. If your health is poor, if you are limited with a disability, if restrictions have been placed around you, you may not be able to accomplish what you could otherwise. But still, you cannot avoid the question of whether you have used what you have to be productive, even if that "productivity" is doing what you can do heal or maintain your strength.
What about rest? There is a place for rest and for recreation. However, unlike the pop philosophy of today which says that we work in order to rest and "have fun," the wisdom of the proverbs teaches that rest and recreation are meant to restore us to work productively. Productive work itself is pleasurable. Productive work is what gives a person a true sense of being valuable, of having a purpose. And it is feeling that what one does has a purpose which gives the person a joy in living even through the most difficult circumstances.
An Excellent Model
For Monday, April 21, 2008
An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
Proverbs, which presents lesson after lesson about the way of wisdom and righteousness, closes by presenting the example of a wife living such a way. She embodies the attributes of wisdom, also depicted as a woman in chapters 3, 8, and 9. As wisdom is declared to be more precious than jewels in 3:15, so is an excellent wife. As a man may trust in wisdom and profit from her, knowing that good comes from her, so a husband may trust the wise and righteous wife.
Many women are praised for their appearance, and, indeed, many men choose wives for that reason alone. But it is the inner spirit that she possesses which is of true worth, as this chapter will show. And the excellent wife serves as a model for us all - male or female, married or single. For it is God's purpose that we all be "excellent." We all should be such persons who can be trusted, who do good all our days.
May there be those who know us who can say, "An excellent wife/husband/parent/ friend/boss/teacher/coach - whatever our status - may we be praised because we have taken the proverbs we have read and applied them to our lives.
The Role of a Ruler
For Friday, April 18, 2008
The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him:
2 What are you doing, my son? What are you doing, son of my womb?
What are you doing, son of my vows?
3 Do not give your strength to women,
your ways to those who destroy kings.
4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel,
it is not for kings to drink wine,
or for rulers to take strong drink,
5 lest they drink and forget what has been decreed
and pervert the rights of all the afflicted.
6 Give strong drink to the one who is perishing,
and wine to those in bitter distress;
7 let them drink and forget their poverty
and remember their misery no more.
8 Open your mouth for the mute,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
9 Open your mouth, judge righteously,
defend the rights of the poor and needy.
A ruler is placed in his position for the purpose of serving those under him, judging rigtheously, and defending the rights of everyone, especially those who are vulnerable to oppression. As such, he is to see his advantageous position of power and wealth as a responsibility to all the more act soberly and maintain integrity, both of which these very possessions dangerously tempt him to lose.
Power corrupts. It leads to arrogance. It takes the powerful man and breaks him so that he has no power to control his sin and folly. The same is true with wealth. It also corrupts him, weakening his moral resolve. It attracts leeches who gather around to suck his money and favor. And when the two are combined in the life of a ruler, the results can be devastating for himself and all who are under him.
Note the two likely temptations - drink and sex. The ruler with power and wealth can have as much drink and sex as he likes. Indeed, he not only has to restrain his own lusts, but he has to resist those who would try to foist these things upon him. For they desire to see him give way because of the advantages they receive - namely, to get his money and his favors.
The ruler - and the ruler may be a government official or a boss or some other kind of leader - must keep before him the high responsibility of his position. It is for doing good, not for gaining personal advantage. The one who understands his purpose and keeps to it is one who obtains nobility. The one who gives into the lusts his position can afford becomes a slave to others and a tyrant over those whom he should be serving.
Give thanks for our Ruler Jesus Christ who resisted all temptation and kept his eyes on the purpose of his calling.