Saturday, July 18, 2009

Proverbs 16: 25-33

25There is a way which seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.
26A worker's appetite works for him,
For his hunger urges him on.
27A worthless man digs up evil,
While his words are like scorching fire.
28A perverse man spreads strife,
And a slanderer separates intimate friends.
29A man of violence entices his neighbor
And leads him in a way that is not good.
30He who winks his eyes does so to devise perverse things;
He who compresses his lips brings evil to pass.
31A gray head is a crown of glory;
It is found in the way of righteousness.
32He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.
33The lot is cast into the lap,
But its every decision is from the LORD.

Today's Thought Question:
  1. What proverb in today's passage spoke to you and why?

I thought about choosing verse 31--"A gray head is a crown of glory; It is found in the way of righteousness"--and saying "Bring it on!!" and ending the post. HA!

No, the verse that intrigues me is the last one in the chapter, verse 33: "The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD." What is this about? First, a look at some of the other translations and paraphrases:

  • "We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall." (NLT)
  • "The lot is cast into the lap, but the decision is wholly of the Lord [even the events that seem accidental are really ordered by Him]." (AMP)
  • "Make your motions and cast your votes, but God has the final say." (The Message)
  • "The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD." (KJV)
Starting with lots, they were not uncommon in Biblical times, Old Testament or New. You might remember that lots were cast for Jesus' clothing at the time of His crucifixion. Lots were also cast to replace Judas as one of the disciples. Most literally, the lot is the pebble used in the process of casting a lot. Figuratively, it means a portion or destiny, as determined by lot. [Strong's] Hold that thought in your head for a minute.

The lap. Lots of things can fall into your lap, and, most of the time, that doesn't imply something good! I read something very complicated about the lap:

"In all these passages the meaning is that of a part of oriental clothing, probably the folds of the garment covering the bosom or lap of a person. The flowing garments of Orientals invite the use of the same, on the part of speakers, in driving home certain truths enunciated by impressive gesticulation."
--International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Let me not lose you in this. Apparently, rulers would hide "decisions" in the laps of their clothing--in the folds--and then would make a grand reveal, demonstrating their great power, their rule. The root of the Hebrew word for lap means to enclose.

"...the whole disposing thereof"--Disposing doesn't mean throw away, here. It has to do with the pronouncement of a judgment or verdict; putting something into an arrangement or order; or, to make fit or ready. There is no question who is in charge of the disposing--it is the Lord!

Putting this together, our lot--which could be anything, really, from the most simple choice to our ultimate destiny--falls into our lap, enclosed, buried in the folds; but our Lord's grand reveal will bring order; make us fit to follow, or judge us for our deeds.

We have freewill. We are sinners. We make mistakes. We need discipline. If we choose to follow the Lord and attain His wisdom, we welcome His reproof and we want Him to make us fit for eternity with Him. Getting back to the earlier reference of lot being our portion or our destiny, I'm reminded of this verse from Psalm 119:

"The LORD is my portion; I have promised to keep Your words. I sought Your favor with all my heart; Be gracious to me according to Your word." (vs 57 & 58)

I also need to mention the note found in The Amplified Bible: "...but the decision is wholly of the Lord [even the events that seem accidental are really ordered by Him]." How many times do we question the things that go on in our world? Things that we don't understand. Things that are "coincidental." Every decision, disposal, motion--all are under the control, and the precise care and timing of our God. As reckless and careless as we are, with our laps full of trouble and overabundant sin, God is still in control.

For me, this suggests grace and mercy for those whose hearts are set on the Lord. For those whose aren't.... What was that part about the pronouncement of judgment or a verdict? In the realm of the eternal, that's one area I'd rather not leave to "chance."


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Tomorrow's Scripture Focus and Thought Question:

Proverbs 17: 1-10
  1. What proverb in today's passage spoke to you and why?

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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).


Carmen said...

That is one of the verses that has always intrigued me too.

It is very comforting knowing that God is the one who ultimately decides, and that even the co-incidentals are planned by God (since He knew all our days before there was any of them).

It is also a reason to pause for reflective thought. Everything that happens to us is either allowed or orchestrated by God. Everything. That's huge!

I am very interested in end times prophecy and current events. The more I study it, the more I realize that God is sovereign. I have to just watch it unfold trusting that God is faithful to His Word. I've even looked into conspiracy theories of the rich, the banking system, Islam, etc. Yet, God knows...and I can rest in that.

It's going to happen the way God said. That is strangely comforting even when talking eschatology.

Loved your last line, btw!

Sue J. said...

The allowances of Providence can be very difficult to understand and swallow. We just can't explain all the "whys." But, as you say, it is still comforting to know that it is Almighty God who has control. That He unfolds things from His lap is His decision, which is pretty much what that last verse is saying.

Revelation is one of those books I need to go through a verse at a time. And it would probably help to do OT prophecy books as well.

Good to hear from you!