Thoughts of a saint and slave
by Sam Isaacson
My son, if you have put up security for your neighbour, have given your pledge for a stranger, if you are snared in the words of your mouth, caught in the words of your mouth, then do this, my son, and save yourself, for you have come into the hand of your neighbour: go, hasten, and plead urgently with your neighbour. Give your eyes no sleep and your eyelids no slumber; save yourself like a gazelle from ( Click for more )
'Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well. Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love. Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress? For a man's ways are before the eyes of the Lord, and he ponders all his paths. ( Click for more )
'And now, O sons, listen to me, and do not depart from the words of my mouth. Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house, lest you give your honor to others and your years to the merciless, lest strangers take their fill of your strength, and your labors go to the house of a foreigner, and at the end of your life you groan, when your flesh and body are consumed, and you say, “How I hated discipline, and my heart despised reproof! I did not listen to the voice of my teachers or incline my ear to my instructors. I am at the brink of utter ( Click for more )
'For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol; she does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it.'
The grass is always greener
Temptation's a funny thing. Whatever is not right here, right now, always looks like being so much more appealing, exciting, and satisfying than what we already have. A married man falls into the arms of another woman...but why? He knows it's morally wrong, ( Click for more )
My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding, that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge. (Proverbs 5:1-2)
A short article this week, just to get our minds working to the glory of God. After having spent the past four chapters telling us that wisdom is the key to life, and sharing all sorts of useful lessons Solomon finds himself telling his reader to listen carefully to wisdom so that we would not tell people about it. Confused?
Know when to shut up
I'm massive fan of being 'out there', preaching the gospel in every way ( Click for more )
‘My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.’ (Proverbs 4:20-27) ( Click for more )
‘Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil. Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on. For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong; they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble. For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence. But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day. The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.’ (Proverbs 4:14-19)
Move along, move along, nothing to see ( Click for more )
'Hear, my son, and accept my words, that the years of your life may be many. I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness. When you walk, your step will not be hampered, and if you run, you will not stumble. Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life.' (Proverbs 4:10-13)
The Bible must be the single most challenging book in the whole of history. The most mind-blowing, heavyweight truths are presented in such a straightforward, easy-to-understand way that if you're anything like me you feel convicted pretty much ( Click for more )
From time to time we sing a song at my local church by Paul Oakley. The words in the chorus are 'It's all about you, Jesus; and all this is for you, for your glory and your fame...You alone are God'. I was told off by a (well-meaning, Christian) friend recently for liking this song because saying that Jesus alone is God is theologically inaccurate seeing as the Father and the Spirit are also God.
Fair enough, true enough, but in my opinion not important enough to mean I should stop declaring Jesus is the one true God through that song.
My purpose today isn't to somehow undermine ( Click for more )
'When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother, he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her. She will place on your head a graceful garland;she will bestow on you a beautiful ( Click for more )
'Hear, O sons, a father's instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight, for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching.' (Proverbs 4:1-2)
The opening of Proverbs 4 gives us a nice little look into Solomon's childhood, and it's a good one. His basic instruction is a simple one: listen to your parents, but like so many other simple instructions don't let its simplicity fool you! It's not necessarily easy.
Just do it
This command is straightforward enough: listen to your Dad. Why? Because he's been there first, and knows what good and bad decisions ( Click for more )
'Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you. Do not plan evil against your neighbor, who dwells trustingly beside you. Do not contend with a man for no reason, when he has done you no harm. Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways, for the devious person is an abomination to the LORD, but the upright are in his confidence. The LORD's curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the dwelling of ( Click for more )
'My son, do not lose sight of these—keep sound wisdom and discretion, and they will be life for your soul and adornment for your neck. Then you will walk on your way securely, and your foot will not stumble. If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes, for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.' (Proverbs 3:21-26)
This week's article will be short, because I'd like you to take the time you'd normally spend reading ( Click for more )
A short(ish) article for a short(ish) passage this week.
'The LORD by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens; by his knowledge the deeps broke open, and the clouds drop down the dew.' (Proverbs 3:19-20)
It's easy to read a passage like this and simple write it off as poetry, thereby drawing the conclusion that we can't take any truth from it - we all know that rain doesn't come from someone's knowledge, it comes about by the water cycle. But that's simply a silly conclusion to draw. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that 'all ( Click for more )
'Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed.' (Proverbs 3:13-18)
At the beginning of this passage we see this little Christian word that's used ( Click for more )
I think this is one of the most encouraging yet difficult passages in the whole of Scripture.
'My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.' (Proverbs 3:11-12)
I don't like to think of the Bible as a list of rules telling us to do certain things and not do other things, but it is unavoidable here; Solomon simply commands us not to despise or be weary of God's discipline, and for good reason. It is easy for us to get into a tough time in life and start ( Click for more )
This is going to be an interesting, and hopefully inspirational week as we continue our journey through Proverbs. Solomon sets us up with four statements which follow the same pattern: 'if you do this, then this will happen':
'Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favour and good success in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise ( Click for more )
The book of Proverbs is probably best known for its one-line wisdom soundbites, but chapter three really sets us up for what’s coming next by building a strong and necessary foundation. Nothing that follows would mean anything without this chapter.
‘My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.’ (Proverbs 3:1-2)
When we look at the information available to us today it’s tempting to think that we’re in an intellectually privileged ( Click for more )
To sum up the last few weeks: actively seek wisdom and you'll be given it by God. Solomon reaches the final conclusion here, and it's a solemn reminder to us.
'So you will walk in the way of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous. For the upright will inhabit the land, and those with integrity will remain in it, but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the treacherous will be rooted out of it.' (Proverbs 2:20-22)
This passage is essentially split into two: the upright, and the wicked.
We've looked at this at some depth in the past few ( Click for more )
Last week we saw the results of receiving God's wisdom; we'll be delivered from those who would deceive us. This week Solomon takes us to someone else who we'll be delivered from:
'So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words, who forsakes the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God; for her house sinks down to death, and her paths to the departed; none who go to her come back, nor do they regain the paths of life.' (Proverbs 2:16-19)
Now, we're getting into a bit of an analogy here - is Solomon talking about ( Click for more )
We're in Proverbs 2, and in our third week of looking at an extended passage in which the character Wisdom, who represents God, is instructing us in how to become wise. Two weeks ago we looked at how our level of wisdom is essentially based on our attitude towards Scripture, and last week we looked at how our wisdom is only found in God, and our identity found in Him. This week we see the results.
'Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; discretion will watch ( Click for more )
'For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints.' (Proverbs 2:6-8)
There are certain words in the Bible which should sound alarm bells in our minds; 'for' is one of them. We can't understand this passage properly unless we understand what this is 'for'. Reading Proverbs 2:1-5, as we did last week, we find out that God has promised wisdom to those who seek it, if only we put our trust ( Click for more )
'My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.' (Proverbs 2:1-5)
This is one of those Bible passages which is simple to understand. 'If you do this, this will happen.' Like the good ol' Windows instruction saying 'Click here to Start' we're ( Click for more )
The biggest challenge of working systematically through a Bible book is that you can't simply pick out the nice, easy passages. This is Wisdom speaking:
'Because I have called and you refused to listen, have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded, because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when terror strikes you, when terror strikes you like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you. Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will ( Click for more )
'Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge? If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you."' (Proverbs 1:20-23)
Wisdom is a person
Solomon continues his introduction to Proverbs by introducing a personification of wisdom. In his mind, Wisdom is a person crying ( Click for more )
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