A new month brings new things and a fresh reading of an ancient passage of Scripture brings a fresh perspective.
It’s a month before the onset of spring here in the south and on the occasion of local government elections here in South Africa, while awake at 04h30, it was time to read Scripture.
I had been listening to Lauren Daigle’s album and the following song helped prepare me to say ‘here’s my heart, speak what is true’:
Proverbs presents the appeal of Wisdom to the reader. Wisdom is better than the alternative if we look at all the idiocy in the world today, and the toll of that idiocy which is quite adequately covered by the news media. Wisdom isn’t merely knowledge otherwise we could study to become wise. There are lots of educated people who are monumentally unwise. These are simple facts.
The third chapter of Proverbs explains what it means to trust the Lord.
My son, do not forget my teaching,
but keep my commands in your heart,
There is time for work and play, entertainment and snooze sessions in the sack, but there is also a time to ruminate on, recall to mind, write about, discuss and think about the Scriptures and what it means for us. Often the time to consider the Scriptures is in the midst of every activity of life with the exception of sleeping. To keep his commands in my heart makes me think of my favourite movies, poems or even some political speeches that I can remember off by heart. His word should be that familiar and meaningful to us that we can recall it. Jesus himself when he was tempted quoted Scripture that was applicable and appropriate for every type of temptation he faced.
2 for they will prolong your life many years
and bring you peace and prosperity.
Many years and prosperity brings to mind quantity and quality – the best of both. Living in wisdom is living right. Sin brings fear of punishment but living in obedience brings peace.
3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
Love and mercy – the same posture that God has towards us. Wearing something on my neck – say a cross for example – might be a sign of something that has meaning for me. A necklace is an outward sign, writing on the tablet of my heart in unquestioningly internal. Thinking of writing on the tablet of my heart I’m reminded of tablets with deep impressions that are easy to read. Inscribed deeply, not like chalk and a chalkboard that can be wiped with the flick of a wrist only for a newer message.
4 Then you will win favor and a good name
in the sight of God and man.
After Jesus’ parents lost him when he was a boy and then found him in the Temple speaking with the doctors of the Law, the second chapter of Luke records that he lived obediently under the direction of his parents, and grew wiser and stronger, pleasing to both God and man. Living in wisdom is noticeable and emulates the Master.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
Truth as opposed to logic: ‘Logic’ can be convoluted into a pretzel with more twists than a multi-season day time soap opera. Truth is. Trusting in the Lord with all our hearts is actually better than all those people who have more degrees than a thermometer but not the sense of a goose.
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Commit everything you do to Him; cover it in prayer, seek his counsel and He will guide you. WWJD: what would Jesus do? The Lord is a shepherd, he guides us, not leaving us to our own devices…he even goes looking for the sheep that may wander off.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.
Human wisdom can – and does – wreak destruction. It is in fact very easy for a person to be impressed with their ‘cleverness’. Only he is good, and fearing him is shunning evil. Also, not many people are impressed with conceit, but not too many people can argue with genuine humility.
8 This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.
There are health benefits to trusting, following and obeying God. Hedonistic rock stars, depressed atheists and those following convoluted religions take a hit in their bodies. It makes sense that we should live like the Maker said we should.
9 Honor the Lord with your wealth,
with the firstfruits of all your crops;
It’s important not to hoard from the Lord. It all belongs to Him anyway. However we all know that this is not as easy as it seems. To my mind it also means not giving him sloppy seconds and thinking that He’s impressed with it.
10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
and your vats will brim over with new wine.
God is more than able to bless someone with more than they ever thought they could have, but the perspective shouldn’t be forgotten that the main thing is to seek the Giver, not the gift.
11 My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline,
and do not resent his rebuke,
12 because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
as a father the son he delights in.
Discipline is based on relationship. Your average stranger may mutter under their breath about unruly children in public but only an older family member normally corrects a child. When he disciplines us, it’s because we’re in the wrong and he teaches us a lesson.
When I read Scripture, especially lately with the book of Proverbs, I see a wise Father I can trust.