Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Proverbs 22: 17-29

17Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise,
And apply your mind to my knowledge;
18For it will be pleasant if you keep them within you,
That they may be ready on your lips.
19So that your trust may be in the LORD,
I have taught you today, even you.
20Have I not written to you excellent things
Of counsels and knowledge,
21To make you know the certainty of the words of truth
That you may correctly answer him who sent you?
22Do not rob the poor because he is poor,
Or crush the afflicted at the gate;
23For the LORD will plead their case
And take the life of those who rob them.
24Do not associate with a man given to anger;
Or go with a hot-tempered man,
25Or you will learn his ways
And find a snare for yourself.
26Do not be among those who give pledges,
Among those who become guarantors for debts.
27If you have nothing with which to pay,
Why should he take your bed from under you?
28Do not move the ancient boundary
Which your fathers have set.
29Do you see a man skilled in his work?
He will stand before kings;
He will not stand before obscure men.

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

Already in reading today, you can sense a different feel, a different voice in these proverbs. The wisdom shared, however, sounds much like Solomon.

Verse 29: "Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before obscure men."

On the surface, we can speak of those who are handy in a certain vocation. Do you have a "good" plumber? Electrician? Carpenter? Have you used great tutors or musical instructors? When you have needed the services and talents of folks like these, have you found the right person with the first phone call? And, once you do find him or her, do you feel like you never want to share that person with anyone else?

What do we admire in folks who are skilled? The King James uses 'diligent,' the Hebrew suggesting industriousness and exacting standards. [Strong's] We appreciate these folks for their learned abilities, but it is likely we appreciate them more for their work ethic. People who work hard to get jobs done right--no matter what it takes on their part--are not only valuable to us but are models to us.

"Do we see...." In the Hebrew, 'see' means more than just viewing. It means to gaze or contemplate. [Strong's] Not that we put these folks on a pedestal, but we contemplate these skilled individuals. We wonder why there aren't more of them. Why can't they all be like this? Skill and character go together, making one worthy of "standing before kings"--and walking into our homes.

The last part of this verse is worthy of meaning exploration as well. "He will not stand before obscure men." 'Obscure' means lacking in light or illumination; not clear to the understanding; enveloped in, concealed by, or frequenting darkness. It's yet another demonstration of the differences between the one filled with wisdom and the one without wisdom.

Matthew Henry sums it up with a reflection for us:

"...And it is hard to find a truly industrious man. Such a man will rise. Seest thou a man diligent in the business of religion? He is likely to excel. Let us then be diligent in God's work."
--Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible


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Tomorrow's Scripture Focus and Thought Question:

Proverbs 23: 1-12 ( of the Solomon-compiled proverbs)
  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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