Vigilance is important and so is personal responsibility, so today we’ll examine how those ideas intersect with our combined search for wisdom on this edition of “Becoming Today”.
I want to say thank you to each and everyone of you for joining us here. Whether you have been following this series for the past three plus weeks or if this is the first time you are joining us. We are involved in a 31-week study of wisdom as taught in the Book of Proverbs. If you’d like to know more about The Passion Translation and why we are using it for this undertaking, you can find a recap near the end of today’s conversation.
We are continuing forward as we have now arrived at our extended odyssey. Our search and rescue mission for wisdom.
Understanding that enlightenment is within our reach we shall seek and find the knowledge and inspiration necessary to uplift, support and enhance our collective journeys as well as our own personal paths.
Last Wednesday we discussed “Becoming Wise”. In the second part of Chapter 22 we began an exploration of the “Sayings of the Wise Sages”.
These teachings, which will continue for several days, steps away from the quick conversational common sense idea and steps back into the storytelling vein of the times in which they were recorded.
The first of these 30 wise sayings, which come from a variety of unattributed wise sages, is found in verses 17 through 21:
“ Listen carefully and open your heart. Drink in the wise revelation that I impart.
18 You’ll become winsome and wise when you treasure the beauty of my words. And always be prepared to share them at the appropriate time.
19 For I’m releasing these words to you this day, yes, even to you, so that your living hope will be found in God alone, for he is the only one who is always true.
20–21 Pay attention to these excellent sayings of three-fold things. For within my words you will discover true and reliable revelation.They will give you serenity so that you can reveal the truth of the word of the one who sends you.
So you can see it’s a return to the poetic prose we shared in earlier chapters plus it restates the promise that if you listen to what I say and take it to heart, you will be rewarded.
The second saying reiterates the thoughts we saw expressed in verse 16. In verses 22 and 23 we read, “Never oppress the poor or pass laws with the motive of crushing the weak. For the Lord will rise to plead their case and humiliate the one who humiliates the poor”.
Looking ahead to the fifth saying, it’s one line that delves into a lot of meaning. Verse 28 as it is translated here is, “The previous generation has set boundaries in place. Don’t you dare move them just to benefit yourself.”
In the N-I-V, it is written as “Do not move an ancient boundary stone set up by your ancestors”. In Biblical times removing these landmarks was a severe penalty, To do so one was attempting to defraud another attempting to steal land, property and the inheritance of another.
However I think the wisdom here goes beyond the protection of personal property. It even entails more than not coveting what another has. It speaks to not destroying laws, traditions and beliefs.
Too often we embrace today as a disposable society. Not only are landfills overflowing and oceans filling with trash, we dispose of people just as easily. Rather than listening and learning then putting that wisdom to use, too many have adopted the modus operandi of using them and abusing them.
That’s the case we are seeing everyday here in the U.S. but refusing to address openly. As for worker shortages, those in power want to say no one wants to work or attack potential employees as lazy. However what we are realizing is that people are tired of being treated poorly, in negative environments for short pay.
In fact one young woman I spoke with recently defined her job search by saying “why would I want to work a crappy job for minimum wage, when I can find another crappy job for $18 an hour?”
While not the best attitude it does point to the fact that those who have treated workers as less than for decades are now seeing their profit margins slip away, because they can not get the job done. Empty platitudes of “essential workers” without compensating people for exceptional above and beyond performance are being rejected and it’s the ones opposing the workers that are paying the price. As we read earlier, “the Lord will rise to plead their case and humiliate the one who humiliates the poor.”
Next we’ll press ahead to Proverbs Chapter 23.
Today’s chapter continues the exploration of the “Sayings of the Wise Sages”. These are called in other translations ‘Thirty Sayings of the Wise”. Today’s study includes the next 13 of these advice laden sayings numbers seven through 19.
Let’s read together, this section which comes under the heading:
Wisdom Will Protect You
When you’ve been invited to dine with a very important leader,
consider your manners and keep in mind whom you’re with.
Be careful to curb your appetite and catch yourself
before you fall into the trap of wanting all you see.[a]
Don’t crave their delicacies,
for they may have another motive in having you sit at their table.
Don’t compare yourself to the rich.[b]
Surrender your selfish ambition and evaluate them properly.
For no sooner do you start counting your wealth
than it sprouts wings and flies away like an eagle in the sky—
here today, gone tomorrow!
Be sensible when you dine with a stingy man[c]
and don’t eat more than you should.[d]
For as he thinks within himself, so is he.[e]
He will grudgingly say, “Go ahead and eat all you want,”
but in his heart he resents the fact that he has to pay for your meal.
You’ll be sorry you ate anything at all,[f]
and all your compliments will be wasted.
A rebellious fool will despise your wise advice,
so don’t even waste your time—save your breath!
Never move a long-standing boundary line
or attempt to take land that belongs to the fatherless.
For they have a mighty protector,
a loving redeemer,[g] who watches over them,
and he will stand up for their cause.
Pay close attention to the teaching that corrects you,
and open your heart to every word of instruction.
Don’t withhold appropriate discipline from your child.
Go ahead and punish him when he needs it.[h]
Don’t worry—it won’t kill him!
A good spanking could be the very thing
that teaches him a lifelong lesson![i]
My beloved child, when your heart is full of wisdom,
my heart is full of gladness.
And when you speak anointed words,[j]
we are speaking mouth to mouth![k]
Don’t allow the actions of evil men
to cause you to burn with anger.[l]
Instead, burn with unrelenting passion
as you worship God in holy awe.
Your future is bright and filled with a living hope
that will never fade away.
As you listen to me, my beloved child,
you will grow in wisdom and your heart
will be drawn into understanding,
which will empower you to make right decisions.[m]
Don’t live in the excesses of drunkenness or gluttony,
or waste your life away by partying all the time,[n]
because drunkards and gluttons sleep their lives away
and end up broke!
Give respect to your father and mother,
for without them you wouldn’t even be here.
And don’t neglect them when they grow old.
Embrace the truth[o] and hold it close.
Don’t let go of wisdom, instruction, and life-giving understanding.
When a father observes his child living in godliness,
he is ecstatic with joy—nothing makes him prouder!
So may your father’s heart burst with joy
and your mother’s soul be filled with gladness because of you.
My son, give me your heart
and embrace fully what I’m about to tell you.
Stay far away from prostitutes
and you’ll stay far away from the pit of destruction.
For sleeping with a promiscuous woman is like falling into a trap
that you’ll never be able to escape!
Like a robber hiding in the shadows
she’s waiting to claim another victim—
another husband unfaithful to his wife.
Who has anguish? Who has bitter sorrow?
Who constantly complains and argues?
Who stumbles and falls and hurts himself?
Who’s the one with bloodshot eyes?
It’s the one who drinks too much
and is always looking for a brew.
Make sure it’s never you!
And don’t be drunk with wine[p]
but be known as one who enjoys the company
of the lovers of God,[q]
for drunkenness brings the sting of a serpent,
like the fangs of a viper[r] spreading poison into your soul.
It will make you hallucinate, mumble,
and speak words that are perverse.
You’ll be like a seasick sailor being tossed to and fro,
dizzy and out of your mind.
You’ll awake only to say, “What hit me?
I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck!”
Yet off you’ll go, looking for another drink!
Take a moment to reflect, and then we’ll begin to break down some of today’s concepts.
Let’s begin to analyze the wisdom shared today with verses four and five, “Don’t compare yourself to the rich. Surrender your selfish ambition and evaluate them properly. For no sooner do you start counting your wealth than it sprouts wings and flies away like an eagle in the sky— here today, gone tomorrow!”
We spend too much time trying to compare ourselves to others. That’s something that we’ll especially take a look at when we get to Proverbs 31, which has been a difficult one for many women. However as we consider this idea today, comparing ourselves to others does absolutely no good. It can lead to envy, jealousy or even depression.
When we try to hold ourselves up to others we either think we need more, as in the old expression, ‘trying to keep up with the Joneses’, or we falsely believe ourselves to be inadequate.
Another translation of the verses in the N I V phrases it as, “Do not wear yourself out to get rich;
do not trust your own cleverness. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle”.
Notice both explanations point to the fleeting nature of material things, as they take flight like an eagle and are gone, gone, gone…
The Apostle Paul spoke about the futility of making such comparisons in 1st Corinthians 4:7, “For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?”.
A timely reminder comes to us in verse nine.
“A rebellious fool will despise your wise advice, so don’t even waste your time—save your breath!”
Don’t waste time with people who are unwilling to listen. You know who theta are and it seems like everyday there are even more of them. Those that reject the truth and ‘drink the Kool-Aid’. Ones who want to scream “talking points” and repeat propaganda they more than likely don’t even understand.
Unfortunately the Scriptures warned us of these days centuries ago.
In 2 Timothy 4 verses 3 and 4, it’s written in The Living Bible as, “For there is going to come a time when people won’t listen to the truth but will go around looking for teachers who will tell them just what they want to hear. They won’t listen to what the Bible says but will blithely follow their own misguided ideas.”
Perhaps verse 23 is a good example of summing up much of our search for this day. As we read it again, “Embrace the truth and hold it close. Don’t let go of wisdom, instruction, and life-giving understanding”.
You don’t know what you don’t know, but when you do everything changes. When you choose to seek knowledge you will find it. Then you need to accept it. Allow the Truth to enter your heart and hold it close, embracing it’s wisdom and protection and then we can press ahead, always being “Becoming”.
Truth, understanding, enlightenment and wisdom are all very “Becoming” traits. They empower us to grow and learn to be who we truly were intended to be. Which in turn enables us to continue moving on, with our momentum fully powered forward and upward.
I hope you have enjoyed the first 23 weeks already of this odyssey. Plus there is much more to come.
As always I encourage you to actively participate. Please post your comments, questions, suggestions or concerns below. This is a safe space to share and there are protections in place to keep spammers out. I will respond to all who choose to participate.
If you do not feel comfortable sharing below, remember you can always reach out privately through the easy to use form on our Contact page.
I pray each and every one of you enjoys a safe and blessed day. Then join us tomorrow as we continue our proverbial search here along this shared journey we call “Becoming Today”.
For those that have been here for a while I hope some of the repetitive nature of these posts is not too distracting. Not only are some of these points to remind us of our focus this month, it is also designed to also be welcoming.
We never know when a fellow traveler may walk along with us, or need to take a diversion.
This is especially true since I have no idea what algorithm directed you, what search method may have pointed in our direction or how many of you find us on any given day. Therefore it’s necessary to recap some of the outline for our combined purposes.
I appreciate your patience and understanding, so I’ll now mention we’ve come to that point in this conversation and if you’ve already heard this, then you can skip the next few paragraphs and pick up with the next image.
Now for those of you listening to the podcast I know that makes no sense, since you can’t hear any of the beautiful graphics we create each day, so you’ll just have to listen along; again… (insert audible giggle here) understanding that I’m laughing with you not at you.
As I am apt to do, even if you have studied Proverbs before, our undertaking may be a bit different, as we’ll be adding some passion to it.
I am being called to focus this teaching around the The Passion Translation® book of Isaiah and New Testament with Psalms, Proverbs, and Song of Songs translated from Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic texts.
Done so by Dr. Brian Simmons who believes the” message of God’s story is timeless; the Word of God doesn’t change. But the methods by which that story is communicated should be timely; the vessels that steward God’s Word can and should change.
Thank you again for joining us on this edition of “Becoming Today”.