Thursday, June 11, 2009

Proverbs 4: 10-19

Today's Thought Questions:
  1. God is using words in this text such as "avoid," "do not," and "put away." These phrases imply that choices need to be made by one who pursues wisdom. Read Matthew 7: 13&14. How might the understanding of these verses help you with daily choices?
  2. After reading Matthew 7: 13&14, reread verses 14-18 in Proverbs. Begin to formulate paths to start avoiding and paths to pursue.

This lovely passage of "A Father's Instruction" continues today with more guidance to attaining wisdom and keeping hold of it. I like verse 12: "When you walk, your steps will not be impeded." Do you have those days in which you feel like every step you take is met with a blockade? Even the simplest actions seem to be met with walls? Those are the times I need to ask myself if I'm walking in my own way and understanding. There's a great cross-reference corresponding with this verse--Job 18: 7--"His vigorous stride is shortened, and his own scheme brings him down." I can relate!

I'm thankful to our thought question authors for their linking of today's passage with Matthew 7: 13 & 14.

"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it."
--Matthew 7: 13&14 (NIV)

'Narrow' portrays an interesting concept in the Hebrew. The gate is described as being narrow from "obstacles standing close about." [Strong's] Isn't that what these verses are saying? There are so many obstacles--let's just say, collectively, per Proverbs, "enticements to sin"--that surround us, making the way of wisdom and ultimately life, narrow. The other way is the broad way..."the path of the wicked" (vs 14) that "leads to destruction" (Matt. 13). Which path is easier to walk...seemingly free of issues? Yet, is that what Solomon urges following?

Verse 15 lists four directives to keep us on the straight and narrow. (Hmm....another modern-day proverb, yes? Keeping on the straight and narrow....)

"Avoid it, do not pass by it; Turn away from it and pass on."

When you can read it all in two short phrases, steering clear of sin doesn't seem that difficult. If we're following the road map to righteousness, we have four possible exits to take that still can lead us to our destination of the narrow gate. But, how often do we get so distracted by other things, inside and outside, that we miss our viable exits and take the next one? Then, of course, we're hoping for a U-turn option. God, by His grace, can save us from those misdirected steps. (Hard not to throw in a church-sign reference to GPS--God-Positioning System, or acronym words of your choosing.)

Here's another vivid description. In the Hebrew, the word way or road implies not just a choice but "a progress." [Strong's] Think journey. Do we arrive at our destination of wisdom, righteousness and the narrow gate in an instant? No way! It is a journey and a progress, and we need to choose if that is where we are going. "The way of the wicked is like darkness," says verse 19. "They [the wicked] do not know over what they stumble." Now that's dark, not to mention a great definition of 'foolishness.'

But for those who choose the path of the righteous, let us be blessed in the progress, as the Light emerges and brings us, ultimately, to complete fulfillment and perfection.

"[It is] like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day." (vs 18)


* * *

Tomorrow's Scripture Focus and Thought Question:

Proverbs 4: 20-27
  1. Verses 20-27 focus on the heart, speech, focus and direction. What actions are we to take regarding these things? Why?

* * *

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation, specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB). I will quote other sources if used in a post.
I also use Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (with notes from the King James Version).


KelliGirl said...

Great thoughts again, Sue.

Last night in our Bible study we discussed Philippians 2:12-18. We went in depth discussing v. 15 "so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 16as you hold out the word of life..."

The women questioned, "How do we do this? How do we recognize the crooked and depraved because often it looks pretty darn good?" "How do we shine like a light?" Of course God is working in us to make us pure and blameless, but on our part, we need to recognize what is "crooked and depraved" and what is of God. We need to be strenuously involved in the process of God's working in us. Often times going through the wide gate seems good. The only way we can discern good from best and worldly from godly is by wisdom.

Like you said, it is not a destination, but a journey. I loved the verse you highlighted, but I missed its significance when I first read the text. We do not wake up one day filled with wisdom. But, one day we receive a glimmer and as we keep at it, we receive more and more.

Sue J your great thoughts and wisdom are a refreshing drink on this journey!

BTW, isn't it cool how Scripture works together to add to our depth of knowledge?


Sue J. said...

Truthfully, Kelli, your last thought about Scriptures coming together is so much of what studying the Bible is about for me. And it's a tremendous boost to my faith as I see that God has put all of these pieces together in one cohesive guide for living. It's all supposed to go together!

When we can take the time to really dig into the Word and to see the many correlations across the Scriptures, then we can step out in confidence in sharing what we have learned, and living the wisdom revealed ("holding out the word of life").