Monday, July 20, 2009

Proverbs 17: 11-21

11A rebellious man seeks only evil,
So a cruel messenger will be sent against him.
12Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs,
Rather than a fool in his folly.
13He who returns evil for good,
Evil will not depart from his house.
14The beginning of strife is like letting out water,
So abandon the quarrel before it breaks out.
15He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous,
Both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD.
16Why is there a price in the hand of a fool to buy wisdom,
When he has no sense?
17A friend loves at all times,
And a brother is born for adversity.
18A man lacking in sense pledges
And becomes guarantor in the presence of his neighbor.
19He who loves transgression loves strife;
He who raises his door seeks destruction.
20He who has a crooked mind finds no good,
And he who is perverted in his language falls into evil.
21He who sires a fool does so to his sorrow,
And the father of a fool has no joy.

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

Although the focus of our Sunday message this week was different than the concept in verse 14, the visual was the same. Our pastor showed us a clay pot as a representation for us in our fragile, broken state--fashioned by our Creator to bloom where we are planted. If our clay pot represents ill-will that starts building up, we can understand what this leads to:

"The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so abandon the quarrel before it breaks out." (vs 14)

This sounds so simple, too. Most of us don't like to get involved in conflict at all. But, sometimes, either in our own weakness or because the issue is one we just can't lay off, we let our eyes bug out, our nostrils flare, our words heat up. We let our passion for our opinion get in the way of our wisdom that would advise a different direction.

Here's a great cross-reference from an upcoming chapter of Proverbs:

"Do not go out hastily to argue your case; otherwise, what will you do in the end, when your neighbor humiliates you?
--Proverbs 25:8

What's the word that catches my attention in the last quote? Hastily! (Although, who wants to be humiliated?!) Remember what we learned back in the first chapter of Proverbs about sinners--"For their feet run to evil and they hasten to shed blood." (1:16) Haste sheds blood and sheds wisdom from our speech.

Our simple move away--a step away--from God's commands and teaching lands us in sin. An seemingly miniscule crack in our pots caused by a step toward animosity or quarreling just leads to a flood of trouble.

Expanding a bit on the Hebrew expression for "letting out" of the water, it literally refers to pounding out or smiting, thereby dispersing. [Strong's] Have you noticed what happens when the beginning of strife comes out in the midst of a group? I have. I had to face the truth of something I started--a poor judgment upon a person that I let spin out of control with my words and attitude--and spread within a group of people, to the point where similar thoughts started emanating from the group. It was ugly.

God showed mercy upon me--a hastily unwise sinner--and led me to confession, extending grace and infusing the group with His thoughts and not my response to a situation that launched a firestorm of frustration and wrong thinking.

Closing this morning with some encouragement from the Apostle Paul:

"...Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you...."
--I Thessalonians 4:11


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Tomorrow's Scripture Focus and Thought Question:

Proverbs 17: 22-28
  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).


Chatty Kelly said...

12Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs,Rather than a fool in his folly.

We all know the saying about a mama bear. Yet it's better to take her on, than a fool. That's huge to me. The other verse that stuck out to me was 21.

21He who sires a fool does so to his sorrow,And the father of a fool has no joy.

When our child makes a mistake it causes us great sadness, but to think they are not just having growing pains, but are actually foolish. Not innocent learning experiences, but to be a fool - not learning from their mistakes, yes it must bring no joy.

Great post today.

Carmen said...

I had to laugh when I read this post. It reminded me of a conversation I didn't have with my husband the other day...though I tried. I guess he must be a wise man because he knew that if he got into it, there could be trouble, and not necessarily because he deserved it. Yes, I'm just a work in progress. Thank God for a wise and understanding husband! :)

Sue J. said...

I almost ran a photo of a bear, because I, too, found that to be a very wise saying. As for the other, let's hope that our children DO learn from their mistakes, because continuing on in that same vein is costly--and joyless!

Oh, Carmen, as you know, that's why we have so many verses on the tongue in the Bible! I'm learning to recognize trigger issues and to walk away, praying for God's guidance to "get it together" before I take another step. It is NOT easy, sometimes. But, my recent mistakes have taught me well.