Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Proverbs 6: 1-11

Parental Counsel

My son, if you have become surety for your neighbor,
Have given a pledge for a stranger,
If you have been snared with the words of your mouth,
Have been caught with the words of your mouth,
Do this then, my son, and deliver yourself;
Since you have come into the hand of your neighbor,
Go, humble yourself, and importune your neighbor.
Give no sleep to your eyes,
Nor slumber to your eyelids;
Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hunter's hand
And like a bird from the hand of the fowler.
Go to the ant, O sluggard,
Observe her ways and be wise,
Which, having no chief,
Officer or ruler,
Prepares her food in the summer
And gathers her provision in the harvest.
How long will you lie down, O sluggard?
When will you arise from your sleep?
"A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest"--
Your poverty will come in like a vagabond
And your need like an armed man.

Today's Thought Questions:
  1. If we have sinned against someone in word or deed, what do verses 3-5 direct us to do?
  2. Ants!! What understanding do you gain in reading about the ant?

Right off the bat, I'm hit with an unfamiliar word. Maybe you are familiar with it: surety (vs 1). Can't just mean that of which we are sure. The context is wrong. Off to the resources....

"It [surety] is used to describe the practice of going security for another by striking hands with that person and becoming responsible for money or any object loaned."
--International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE)

Rather than "given a pledge for a stranger," the King James uses "if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger." Figuratively speaking, in the Hebrew, the implication is "becoming a bondsman (by handclasping)" Bottom line, it's one who decides to be responsible for another's debt, pledging to pay even upon one's default. Solomon is quick to say that this is foolishness.

If our mouths have gotten us into trouble in such a business transaction, we need to address the situation right away. "Deliver yourself" (vs 3), meaning to purge yourself of the sinful action. "Humble yourself," even if it means inconveniencing your neighbor to make the situation right. This short-sighted sin has behind it the possibility of poverty or slavery.

"Anyone who becomes responsible for another person's debt is trapped and controlled because he has yielded control of what God has given him as a stewardship," says my S.B. Not that we shouldn't be giving to others--that's very different.

There are some strong visuals in verses 4 and 5? Free yourselves from the hand of the hunter or fowler. Can you picture a captured doe, fighting with every ounce of her being--shaking, twisting, maybe because she's got little ones watching from behind some cover--to escape, to run. Or the bird, flapping to the point of shedding feathers in clumps, to again be free to fly.

If we have done our neighbor or a stranger wrong in this type of sin or another, we need to have this kind of one-track-mindedness in dealing with our sinfulness against him or her.

Solomon continues with metaphors from the animal world, raising up the ant as a role model. The ant has an incredible work ethic; "If I want to eat, year-round, I've got to get my food." And ants do work hard. Each knows its job and works every day of its "short" (by human comparison) life to get it done. The ant does not fold its hands to rest and does not know idleness.

"It was a favorite thought of Hebrew wisdom — practical philosophy of life — that indolence inevitably led to poverty and want. [ISBE] If you've studied Proverbs before, or at least the Proverbs 31 woman, you know that 31:27 says "She...does not eat the bread of idleness."

How does all of this apply to wisdom? If we fall lazy in our quest for attaining wisdom...fall idle...will we eat? And if we do eat, what will we eat? Do you remember the Israelites rejecting God's blessing of manna (and their culinary consequences)? Do you remember the Canaanite woman in the New Testament who referred to herself as a dog who desired to eat the crumbs that fell from her Master's table. (Matt. 15:27) Such wisdom in this woman from a despised place, recognized by Jesus and honored with His gift of healing her daughter. The Israelites? Their wisdom in the daily presence of their God??....

According to our last verses for today, we will soon face poverty if we continue in our lazy ways. Again, when looking at wisdom, to be impoverished is a sorry state, indeed.

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Tomorrow's Scripture Focus and Thought Questions:

Proverbs 6: 12-19
  1. Reread verses 16-19. In your own words, what are the things the Lord hates and detests?
  2. Solomon says that the Lord hates these things. How can a loving God feel this way? Can you find Biblical examples supporting the fact that God expresses His hatred about certain things?

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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).

1 comment:

Chatty Kelly said...

Very good words from you today. I also like how you added the verses here, so we don't have to look them up. A lazy man's dream come true...oh, wait.

Maybe I should go look them up. *grin*