Friday, July 24, 2009

Proverbs 18: 17-24

17The first to plead his case seems right,
Until another comes and examines him.
18The cast lot puts an end to strife
And decides between the mighty ones.
19A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city,
And contentions are like the bars of a citadel.
20With the fruit of a man's mouth his stomach will be satisfied;
He will be satisfied with the product of his lips.
21Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.
22He who finds a wife finds a good thing
And obtains favor from the LORD.
23The poor man utters supplications,
But the rich man answers roughly.
24A man of too many friends comes to ruin,
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Today's Thought Question:
  1. What proverb in today's passage spoke to you and why?
There are lots of fun choices to look at today, but I'm going to spend time with verse 17:

"The first to plead his case seems right, until another comes and examines him."

My S.B. says, See verse 13. Well, verse 13 is the one I referenced in my added comment yesterday, "He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him." Perhaps I have more of a problem with this issue than I realized--LOL!

I can't help but think of countless kids at the beginning of their countless arguments--usually sibling directed. First one to Mom or Dad has the chance to come through clean. But, wise parents don't let the first plea stand, do they? Experience tells them that there is more to the story than they have heard. They talk to the sibling, who shares--but not without rebuttal from the first! (Ah, siblings.)

"The first speech in a court case is always convincing—until the cross-examination starts!" (The Message)

Life would be much easier if the first words were also the only words needed! But, we know that human beings aren't only not perfect, but we have a tendency to sin! Even if sibling #1 isn't lying, sibling #1 may be guarding his or her pride. Wisdom will uncover the sins, whatever they be.

In looking through the King James, I think there's a different focus.

"He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him."

The KJV uses 'cause' which can also be translated "pleading or striving." Neighbour can refer to a lot of different people--associate, brother, companion, fellow, friend, husband, lover. And this person comes and "searcheth him," meaning to examine him intimately, to sound, try or seek out. [All references from Strong's.]

There are definitely times when I have striven to express my ideas, my thoughts, my position. Sometimes, I am even the first to speak--especially in instances in which I feel so strongly about something. It is rare that such moments occur in a vacuum! No, there is always a work associate, a friend, a hubby, sister.

What I find interesting in the verbs at the end is that they are not so much accusing as they are examining. When God searches my heart, I don't think He puts me under a grueling cross-examination. (Though He may be asking me to examine the cross!) Those whose voices follow mine, depending on their relationship with me, I would expect them (want them?) to sound me out, search me deeply, make sure that whatever I am thinking, speaking, offering is coming from the perspective of wisdom.

And what if they aren't my friends? Ooh! Opportunity for growth....

"It is well to listen to our enemies, that we may form a better judgment of ourselves."
--Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible


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Tomorrow's Scripture Focus and Thought Question:

Proverbs 19: 1-9
  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).

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