I have been reading in the book of Proverbs lately. I just finished reading Ezekiel which was a challenging book to read. Learned a lot - much of it about myself. I also finished the Gospel of Mark and 2 Corinthians this week. So Proverbs has captured my attention for a while now. There are many gems in this book. If one tried to write about them all, it would take a lifetime. If one tried to live them all, it would take multiple lifetimes. What an amazing book. Solomon really was a wise man, wasn't he?
As I read, I highlighted a few verses. I will speak briefly on them.
Proverbs 12:1 "Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid." I never equated knowledge with discipline. But there is truth in this. None of us are so smart or so good that we don't need to be disciplined - whether by God or by one who is in authority over us. But for them most part, we don't want discipline. We don't like it when someone points out where we have done wrong. At that moment, we prefer to remain stupid. (I can hear the hue-and-cry at that statement! "How dare he call me stupid?") I call no one stupid. The Word of God points that out easily enough. As we think we know so much that we don't need reproof (or correction) in our lives, it shows how little we know. The Hebrew of "stupid" is that which relates to the cattle of the field. The person who rejects correct is like a beast of the field, not a man/woman of God.
Proverbs 13:5 "The righteous hates falsehood, but the wicked brings shame and disgrace." How true! To be "righteous" is to follow the way and will of God, which takes us far from falsehood. Jesus talks about this same thing in John 8 when he speaks to the Pharisees and tells them that they are following their "father," the devil. Why? Because they do not want the truth that Jesus brings. How true in the world today. Lies are promoted, truth is beaten down. It doesn't matter if what you are saying wrong, if you are loud enough, forceful enough and arrogant enough, then you are accepted. And it does bring shame and disgrace. Look at our county and see the shame and disgrace all around us - all based in the lie that there is no God, there is no absolute, there is no morality, there is nothing more than what you want, when you want it. The righteous should not stand for it. They should speak out.
Proverbs 14:4 "Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox." What? If you want things in life, you need to work for them. They aren't just handed to you. Along with a lush, green, healthy lawn comes the need for a lawnmower. You cannot have the "good" things of life if you don't put in the time and effort that is needed to receive them. Our country today seems to say "You don't need to work for it. Let someone else give it to you." But someone, somewhere needs to have a manger that needs to be cleaned out if you are going to have the bounties of life. Nothing, I mean nothing in this physical world, comes without someone having to work for it. Your manger may be clean, but the person that provided you that "thing" had a dirty manger.
Proverbs 15:1 "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." To go with this one is Proverbs 15:18. "A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention." How true! Amazing how quick we are today to take offense and go on the attack. It is almost the default mode. And look at the outcome - people are shot, fights erupt, lives are ruined, families are torn apart. Congregations are not immune to it either. In fact, it seems that it so easy to have one member attack another member because of a harsh statement that is made or someone has a hot-temper and flies off the handle. Think about that before you speak next time.
All right. That is enough for today. There are many more verses to expound on. So much wisdom that Solomon wants to impart to us. It would serve all of us well to take time to read through the Proverbs and let the Spirit guide us in how we are to think, talk and act.