It’s a big event on this edition of “Becoming Today”, as we wrap up our 31 week search and rescue mission for wisdom. Our extended endeavor ends with some inspired words that have not been without controversy over the centuries.
In fact these words have even inspired Joyce Meyer to say they described the woman she used to hate…
I really do want to thank each and everyone of you for joining us here. Whether you have been following this series or if you have just found us.
We have been involved in a 31-day 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.
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 week our discussion was titled, “The Mysterious Agur”.
While it sounds like he should ride in on a fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust, and a hearty “Hi yo, Scripture!” – Agur The Mysterious without a faithful Indian companion, is a daring and resourceful interpreter of wisdom who led the fight for truth and justice before the birth of Christ. Nowhere in the pages of history can one find any real proof of him.
There are a few questions about the identity and even the existence of the man given credit for this chapter. Who is Agur the Mysterious?
Your explanation may be as good as anyone else’s.
There are no other references to him in the Bible, no historical records connected with him being noteworthy, though he remains a person of interest.
As the reading today opened, “These are the collected sayings of the prophet Agur, Jakeh’s son.”
The Passion Translation footnote, discusses “This section of Proverbs is attributed to Agur, who gave these oracles to his protégés Ithiel and Ukal”. Never heard of them? You’re not alone theologians aren’t sure they were real people either.
Some theologians even claim that Agur is a pseudonym, a pen name, for Solomon. Now what would the wisest man of his time want to “publish” these specific thoughts under another name?
My thoughts immediately go to our earlier conversation about the sayings of the ”Wise Sages”. And the following sections which addressed insights noted as “Revelations From The Wise”, apparently they do not involve the aforementioned ‘wise sages’.
I have no idea what the requirement is to officially be considered a “sage”, (giggle) or why these final offerings today do not ascend to that level, but nevertheless they seem to me to be equally as important.
And now with a title like Agur the Mysterious I feel that some editor over time believed perhaps these were more important than those, because this “sage” not only had a name, he had a cape-worthy title.
In examining some of the works of this Biblical superhero, we learned he also had a few questions for us.
In Chapter 30 verse four Agur began by asking for some input. In one passage he asked six questions:
- Who is it that travels back and forth from the heavenly realm to the earth?
- Who controls the wind as it blows and holds it in his fists?
- Who tucks the rain into the cloak of his clouds?
- Who stretches out the skyline from one vista to the other?
- What is his name? And what is the name of his Son?
- Who can tell me?
Now riddle me this Agur, did you really need to ask or were you just trying to see if people were paying attention?
The riddle is solved for us, as the answers are found in the New Testament. As the footnote indicates, “ Jesus solves this riddle in John 3:13. Only Jesus Christ is the master of heavenly knowledge and wisdom”.
It’s also suggested that we refer to Ephesians 4:7–10. Here we learn that we are all eligible to receive the gift of Grace, as Christ descended from the Heavens and undertook a course to ensure it and our eternal salvation; should we choose to accept this mission possible.
Next we’ll press ahead to Proverbs 31.
Like Agur, today we deal with another mysterious individual. The first sect
Why the original scribes of these sayings thought to not attribute some of the teachings and in other cases may have made up fictional characters we do not know. In the first of the 42 footnotes in this passage explains, “Jewish legend is that King Lemuel was a pseudonym for Solomon, which would make his mother mentioned here to be Bathsheba. There is no other mention of Lemuel in the Scriptures”.
Yet his words have remained true for the ages. Let’s read together as the chapter opens with the heading:
King Lemuel’s[a] royal words of wisdom:
These are the inspired words my mother taught me.[b]
Listen, my dear son, son of my womb.
You are the answer to my prayers, my son.
So keep yourself sexually pure
from the promiscuous, wayward woman.
Don’t waste the strength of your anointing
on those who ruin kings—
you’ll live to regret it![c]
For you are a king, Lemuel,
and it’s never fitting for a king to be drunk on wine
or for rulers to crave alcohol.
For when they drink they forget justice
and ignore the rights of those in need,
those who depend on them for leadership.
Strong drink is given to the terminally ill,
who are suffering at the brink of death.
Wine is for those in depression
in order to drown their sorrows.
Let them drink and forget their poverty and misery.
But you are to be a king who speaks up on behalf
of the disenfranchised
and pleads for the legal rights of the defenseless
and those who are dying.
Be a righteous king, judging on behalf of the poor
and interceding for those most in need.[d]
The next section now comes under the subheading of:
The Radiant Bride
Who could ever find a wife like this one[e]—
she is a woman of strength and mighty valor![f]
She’s full of wealth and wisdom.
The price paid for her was greater[g] than many jewels.
Her husband has entrusted his heart to her,[h]
for she brings him the rich spoils of victory.
All throughout her life she brings him what is good and not evil.[i]
She searches out continually to possess
that which is pure and righteous.[j]
She delights in the work of her hands.[k]
She gives out revelation-truth[l] to feed others.
She is like a trading ship bringing divine supplies[m]
from the merchant.[n]
for hungry ones in her house and for others.[q]
She sets her heart upon a field[r] and takes it as her own.
She labors there to plant the living vines.[s]
She wraps herself in strength,[t] might, and power in all her works.
She tastes and experiences a better substance,[u]
and her shining light will not be extinguished,
no matter how dark the night.[v]
She stretches out her hands to help the needy[w]
and she lays hold of the wheels of government.[x]
She is known by her extravagant generosity to the poor,
for she always reaches out her hands[y] to those in need.
She is not afraid of tribulation,[z]
for all her household is covered in the dual garments[aa]
of righteousness and grace.
Her clothing is beautifully knit together[ab]—
a purple gown of exquisite linen.
Her husband is famous and admired by all,
sitting as the venerable judge of his people.[ac]
Even her works of righteousness[ad]
Bold power and glorious majesty[ag] are wrapped around her
as she laughs with joy over the latter days.[ah]
Her teachings are filled with wisdom and kindness
as loving instruction pours from her lips.[ai]
She watches over the ways of her household[aj]
and meets every need they have.
and her husband arises to speak of her in glowing terms.[am]
“There are many valiant and noble ones,[an]
but you have ascended above them all!”[ao]
Charm can be misleading,
and beauty is vain and so quickly fades,
but this virtuous woman lives in the wonder, awe,
and fear of the Lord.
She will be praised throughout eternity.
So go ahead and give her the credit that is due,
for she has become a radiant woman,
and all her loving works of righteousness deserve to be admired
at the gateways of every city![ap]
Take a moment to reflect and then we’ll continue our conversation about some of these wise insights and suggestions.
The first nine verses are motherly advice. They are said to be instructions given to a young man who one day would be king. Whether or not you believe your children shall one day be leaders of nations, the wisdom expressed is something that should be taught to all and are also virtues that many adults need to be reminded of.
These include being virtuous (sexually pure),sober and just. All very “Becoming” qualities.
Plus these are not requirements only for kings or queens. As the Book of Titus teaches, we all have responsibilities in life and while they change somewhat as we age, they still involve living the attributes of a righteous life.
Tying in with the motherly lessons we read today Titus 2, it’s taught as, “ Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us”.
The King James Version spells out the responsibilities as, “That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.
The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things…”
In the second section of today’s reading we get into what has commonly been called the Proverbs 31 woman. She is the woman that Joyce Meyer admits she used to hate.
That’s because for far too long these verses had been taught as a virtually unattainable standard, being used to control and / or condemn women.
That is not the point. In fact I believe it is quite the opposite. These lines are intended to offer us guidance and inspiration, opening up worlds of possibility and allowing us the freedom to explore our limitless potential.
I know many women over the years have fallen victim to the false images perpetrated by misteachings of these passages. Some fell deep into despair and depression, because they felt they could not meet such standards if they didn’t compare.
That’s where the problem lies, anyone who says you should compare yourself to this “idealized woman” is a fool. As we have heard several times in our study of Proverbs, fools are to be avoided at all costs.
As we read in chapter 14, “If you need wise counsel, stay away from the fool. For the wisdom of the wise will keep life on the right track, while the fool only deceives himself and refuses to face reality”.
Furthermore, remember in 1st Corinthians 4:7 we are taught, “When we compare ourselves to others, we are agreeing with the plans of the enemy for our lives. Comparison is the thief of joy and the stretcher of truth”.
Reclaim your joy now and don’t even think about comparing yourself to the fictional character referenced in this chapter.
Before we look at some of the valid qualities and lessons contained though let me point out what some may try to keep secret. There is nothing in the Scriptures that even suggests a woman should have all the qualities listed. And there is definitely nothing that says we need to accomplish them or attempt to perform them at once.
Even the start of her description here in verse 10 notes, “Who could ever find a wife like this one-”. Instead of the dash I would put a question mark (?) there.
So in the beginning the list of wonderful qualities it’s being presented in the context of ‘who could ever be like this?’
Now that does not say we should not try to attain many of them. It’s just that it is impossible for anyone, woman or man… to be perfect. All we can do is commit ourselves to “Becoming” the best we can be at any given moment.
That is what is being alluded to as verse 10 continues, “She is a woman of strength and mighty valor! She’s full of wealth and wisdom”.
So in doing so we need to reject the idea that there is a way to achieve perfection. Those who have tried to instruct us, have been doing so to subjugate us. To hold us down, to control and cause us to fall prey to unrealistic standards.
It is those who as “”Rock-n-Roll Royalty”, Sir Mick Jagger crooned, “It’s down to me. The difference in the clothes she wears. Down to me, the change has come. She’s under my thumb”.
These are like the kind of people in the fashion industry who claim there is a size “zero” or talk about the perfect size six. Really? Depending upon where the clothes are made there are probably 16 different sizes that carry the label of “6” so how can they even be accurate, much less perfect?
That said there certainly are very desirable and attainable qualities that are within our reach, that we should aspire for.
In verse 13, we read, “She searches out continually to possess that which is pure and righteous”. We should always be in a state of seeking.
What I’m talking about is “Becoming” when defined as a noun: ‘’the process of coming to be something or of passing into a state”. Coming to be always, “Becoming”. Growing, developing and shifting into an attitude and daily practice of always, “Becoming”.
That’s the essence behind, “Becoming Today”.
How do I, as an individual and we as a society, focus on “Becoming” what we are truly destined to be? How do we become all we can be? How do we further enrich our lives and those of our families, friends, communities and society as a whole? What exactly is it we want to become today? Each and every day, becoming the best at whatever we desire, hope for, have set goals for, prayed for and how do we achieve this state?
These kinds of thoughts are also echoed in verses 17 and 18: She wraps herself in strength, might, and power in all her works. She tastes and experiences a better substance, and her shining light will not be extinguished, no matter how dark the night”.
No matter what the circumstance, the challenge, the obstacle or the concern may need, we should be seeking the wisdom and enlightenment that is ours from the Holy Spirit within, then sharing that with our families and all those we encounter. That is how we impact the change we want to see.
Sure there will be trials and troubles however we should have the confidence and faith to understand these are only passing moments. As it is noted in verse 21, “She is not afraid of tribulation, for all her household is covered in the dual garments of righteousness and grace”.
When we openly accept the gift of God’s grace and share it freely with those in our life, then righteousness prevails in our lives.
Then as verse 26 shares we need to always do so humbly and freely, “ Her teachings are filled with wisdom and kindness as loving instruction pours from her lips”. Then we can achieve the goal set in the next line, “She watches over the ways of her household and meets every need they have”.
Though I would add within reason. Meets every need they have within reason and then we can be working to help them understand that their wants and desires need to be in accord with the Lord.
Verse 30 really sums up what I believe is an important reminder for each of us. It reads, “…this virtuous woman lives in the wonder, awe, and fear of the Lord”.
Remember being fearful here is not to be afraid. It is not being fearful of God.
Living in fear of the Lord is giving Him due respect, acknowledging the awesomeness of his power and Grace and choosing to live in obedience to his Word and submit ourselves daily to His plan for our lives. Let His will, not our will steer the course, clear the path, allow God to truly be our Waymaker: then we can achieve our destinies, together here on this shared journey we call “Becoming Today”.
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.
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.
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For those that have been here throughout this series, I hope some of the repetitive nature of these posts was 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”.
Also I’ll remind you that the footnotes referred to above are available here and include underlined study links:
a. 31:1 Jewish legend is that King Lemuel was a pseudonym for Solomon, which would make his mother mentioned here to be Bathsheba. There is no other mention of Lemuel in the Scriptures. The Hebrew word translated “inspired words” is massa, which some have surmised was a place, meaning “Lemuel, King of Massa.”
b. 31:1 The Septuagint is “These are words spoken by God, and through a king came an answer divine.”
c. 31:3 As translated from the Septuagint.
e. 31:10 Starting with verse 10 through the end of the book, we have a Hebrew acrostic poem. It is alphabetical in structure, with each of the twenty-two verses beginning with a consecutive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The implication is that the perfections of this woman would exhaust the entire language. The subject is the perfect bride, the virtuous woman. This woman is both a picture of a virtuous wife and an incredible allegory of the end-time victorious bride of Jesus Christ, full of virtue and grace.
f. 31:10 The Hebrew word used to describe this virtuous wife is khayil. The meaning of this word cannot be contained by one English equivalent word. It is often used in connection with military prowess. This is a warring wife. Khayil can be translated “mighty;” “wealthy;” “excellent;” “morally righteous;” “full of substance, integrity, abilities, and strength;” “mighty like an army.” The wife is a metaphor for the last-days church, the virtuous, overcoming bride of Jesus Christ. The word khayil is most often used to describe valiant men. See Ex. 18:21, where it is used for the mighty ones Moses was to commission as elders and leaders among the people. Because many of the cultural terms and metaphors used in this passage are not understood or even used in today’s English-speaking world, this translation makes them explicit.
g. 31:10 Or “her worth.” The price paid for her was the sacred blood of the Lamb of God, her Bridegroom.
h. 31:11 Or “has great confidence in her.”
i. 31:12 The virtuous bride will not bring disgrace to his name. Jesus will not be ashamed to display her to the world.
j. 31:13 Or “wool and linen [flax].” Wool is a metaphor often used as a symbol of what is pure. See Isa. 1:18; Dan. 7:9; Rev. 1:14. Linen was made from flax and always speaks of righteousness. The priests of the Old Testament wore linen garments as they went before God’s presence to offer sacrifices. The curtains of the tabernacle were likewise made of linen, signifying God’s righteousness. See Ex. 28:39–43 and Rev. 19:8. The virtuous bride of Christ in the last days will be seeking for only what is pure and righteous in the eyes of her Bridegroom.
k. 31:13 Or “eagerly works with her hands.” The hands, with their five fingers, speak of the five ministries of the present work of Christ on the earth: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. These are often referred to as the five-fold ministries. Her delight is to equip others and help those in need.
l. 31:14 Or “bread.” This is a consistent emblem of spiritual food.
m. 31:14 Or “supplies from far away.” The implication is that the supplies come from another realm. She is bringing heavenly manna for those she feeds.
n. 31:14 Or “like merchant ships bringing goods.” Like a ship loaded with cargo, the bride of Christ brings heavenly treasures to others. The use of the term merchant points to Jesus Christ. He is described as a merchant in Matt. 13:45 in the parable of the extraordinary pearl. The “pearl” is the church or the believer, which cost all that Jesus had (his blood) to purchase us.
o. 31:15 She is interceding in the night, laboring in a night season to help others.
p. 31:15 The Hebrew word translated “arise” can also mean “to rise up in power.” We are told to “rise up in splendor and be radiant, for your light has dawned” in Isa. 60:1, which uses the same Hebrew word for “arise.” The bride of Christ will arise with anointing to feed and bless the people of God.
q. 31:15 Or “female servants.” The servants are a metaphor for other churches and ministries.
r. 31:16 Or “a land” or “a country.”
s. 31:16 Or “By the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.” (The Septuagint is “possession.”) For “hands,” see the second footnote for v. 13. This vineyard becomes a metaphor for the local church. We are the branches of the Vine (Christ). See John 15:1–8. She is passionate about bringing forth fruit. She becomes a missionary to the nations, planting churches and bringing new life.
u. 31:18 Or “good merchandise.”
v. 31:18 Her prayer life (“light”) overcomes her circumstances, even in a culture where darkness prevails.
w. 31:19 As translated from the Septuagint. The Hebrew uses a term for “distaff” (a weaver’s staff), which is taken from a root word for “prosperity.” The poetic nuance of this phrase is that she uses her prosperity to bless the needy.
x. 31:19 Or “Her hands grasp the spindle.” The word translated as “spindle” can also mean “governmental circuits” or “wheels.” There is a hint here of the wheels mentioned in Ezek. 1. The throne of God’s government sits on flaming wheels. See Dan. 7:9.
z. 31:21 Or “snow.” This is a figure of speech for the fear of a cold winter season.
aa. 31:21 As translated from the Septuagint. The Hebrew is “everyone is covered in scarlet [blood].” Grace has brought righteousness to those in her house (under her ministry).
cc. 31:23 Or “sitting at the city gates among the elders of the land.” Judgment was rendered at the gates of a city in that day. It was their courtroom. Our heavenly King is also the Judge. So famous, so glorious, yet he is our Bridegroom.
ee. 31:24 Or “sells them.” The root word for “sell” can also mean “surrender.”
ff. 31:24 Or “aprons or belts for the Canaanites.” The Canaanites were the traditional enemies of the Hebrews.
gg. 31:25 Or “Beauty, honor, and excellence.”
hh. 31:25 The virtuous and victorious bride has no fear for the days to come. She contemplates eternity and her forever union with the Bridegroom.
ii. 31:26 The Septuagint is “she opens her mouth carefully and lawfully.”
jj. 31:27 Or “She is a watchman over her house [family].”
kk. 31:28 The Hebrew word translated “arise” can also mean “to rise up with power.” The Septuagint is “She raises her children so they will grow rich.”
ll. 31:28 Or “Hooray, hooray for our mother!”
mm. 31:28 For more of how the heavenly Bridegroom loves his bride, read the Song of Songs.
nn. 31:29 Or “Many daughters have obtained wealth because of her.” These valiant and noble ones (daughters) represent the church of previous generations who remained faithful in their pursuit of Jesus. But this final generation will be the bridal company of the lovers of God who do mighty exploits and miracles on the earth.
pp. 31:31 The Septuagint could be translated “her husband is praised at the city gates.”
The Passion Translation®.
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