Friday, July 31, 2009

Proverbs 21: 1-9

On Life and Conduct
1The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD;
He turns it wherever He wishes.
2Every man's way is right in his own eyes,
But the LORD weighs the hearts.
3To do righteousness and justice
Is desired by the LORD more than sacrifice.
4Haughty eyes and a proud heart,
The lamp of the wicked, is sin.
5The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage,
But everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty.
6The acquisition of treasures by a lying tongue
Is a fleeting vapor, the pursuit of death.
7The violence of the wicked will drag them away,
Because they refuse to act with justice.
8The way of a guilty man is crooked,
But as for the pure, his conduct is upright.
9It is better to live in a corner of a roof
Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.

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

Traveling on this study adventure with me puts you in the passenger's seat, taking constant side ventures into the meaning of words. I'm making up for all those years when I refused to consult a dictionary!

I've only commented on this verse, but today, it's time for me to take a deeper look at it. Verse 9:

"It is better to live in a corner of a roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman."

The first words to look at are 'roof' and 'house'. In Solomon's day, homes were built with flat roofs. Many had a short wall or parapet built up around the perimeter of the roof. (In fact, Deuteronomy 22:8 talks about the wisdom in building a parapet, so that one would not have bloodguilt over an accidental death caused by one falling off the roof!) In the great heat, folks often met up on the roof--even slept there!

Although this sounds lovely, and I'm sure there were some marvelous city views, staying on the roof at all times might be a little uncomfortable. Rain would do more than dampen your spirits! And there's the issue of no phone-no pool-no parapets.

Going a bit beyond the intended meaning, I'm sure, the Hebrew translation of the word roof, by analogy, means "on top of an altar." [Strong's] YIKES!

Next, I need to look at 'contentious'. Contentious comes from 'contend' not 'content'! The contentious woman is far from content. She is brawling, quarrelsome, argumentative, nagging, faultfinding. [Strong's, KJV, AMP] The original roots of 'contend' point back to 'tense', whose root means to stretch, thin.

Solomon writes of this woman on more than one occasion in Proverbs. We have already studied one, 19:13, "A foolish son is destruction to his father, and the contentions of a wife are a constant dripping."

I do equate this with nails on a blackboard. My S.B. says, "...a leak so unrelenting that one has to run from it or go mad." What makes her so awful for her mate is that she is impossible to control. Jumping ahead to Proverbs 27:16: "He who would restrain her restrains the wind, and grasps oil with his right hand." [Hmm....good luck with that!]

I need to bring up the expanded phrasing of this verse by the NASB: "It is better to live in a corner of a roof than with a woman of contentions and a house of association." The King James refers to the house as "wide." It would seem that the house itself may be a contributing factor along with the woman's character.

Back to the Hebrew, 'wide' translates as "charming, enchantment, a spell, society." [Strong's] The woman clearly has an influence on her house--a spell, perhaps? I wonder, too, if 'society' might not refer to others with whom the woman associates? Perhaps I'm generalizing, but folks who have mastered the art of nagging probably share stories with others who do the same thing.

One of the definitions for 'wide' is British slang for shrewd and unscrupulous. ( says, "oblivious to or contemptuous of what is right or honorable." Don't you love it when it all circles back to the wisdom of Solomon?!)

So, what do we do with contentions? How should we respond when we want to lash out, talk back and otherwise nag our way to what we want?

"It is best to shun bitter contention by pouring out the heart before God. For by prudence and patience, with constant prayer, the cross may be removed."
--Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

"You have made us a source of contention to our neighbors, and our enemies mock us. Restore us, O God Almighty; make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved."
--Psalm 80: 6 & 7

There is hope, even for the contentious!


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Tomorrow's Scripture Focus and Thought Question:

Proverbs 21: 10-19
  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).


T. Anne said...

I do think of the wife and the constant dripping every time I'm tempted to nag my husband. There is so much about how to be a good wife the bible teaches, and they have been gems to my marriage!

Carmen said...

I've always tried to be careful about nagging as well. I think my man has enough on his plate without having to deal with a dissatisfied, complaining wife. It goes completely against God's purpose in putting me with him -- to be a helpmate(to support and help).

Again, I love the way the bible describes nagging...a continual dripping. That's exactly what it's like. I guess the CIA calls it "water torture" for a reason!

Anonymous said...

Really great information, the best part was the ending (there is hope even for the contentious). This was really helpful for me. I thank the Lord for this post.