Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The E100 Bible Reading Challenge: Psalms & Proverbs: Godly Wisdom (44)


Proverbs 1:1-4:27

Proverbs

The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: 

Prologue


For learning about wisdom and instruction,
   for understanding words of insight,
for gaining instruction in wise dealing,
   righteousness, justice, and equity;
to teach shrewdness to the simple,
   knowledge and prudence to the young—
let the wise also hear and gain in learning,
   and the discerning acquire skill,
to understand a proverb and a figure,
   the words of the wise and their riddles. 

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
   fools despise wisdom and instruction. 

Warnings against Evil Companions


Hear, my child, your father’s instruction,
   and do not reject your mother’s teaching;
for they are a fair garland for your head,
   and pendants for your neck.
My child, if sinners entice you,
   do not consent.
If they say, ‘Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood;
   let us wantonly ambush the innocent;
like Sheol let us swallow them alive
   and whole, like those who go down to the Pit.
We shall find all kinds of costly things;
   we shall fill our houses with booty.
Throw in your lot among us;
   we will all have one purse’—
my child, do not walk in their way,
   keep your foot from their paths;
for their feet run to evil,
   and they hurry to shed blood.
For in vain is the net baited
   while the bird is looking on;
yet they lie in wait—to kill themselves!
   and set an ambush—for their own lives!
Such is the end of all who are greedy for gain;
   it takes away the life of its possessors. 

The Call of Wisdom


Wisdom cries out in the street;
   in the squares she raises her voice.
At the busiest corner she cries out;
   at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
‘How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
   and fools hate knowledge?
Give heed to my reproof;
I will pour out my thoughts to you;
   I will make my words known to you.
Because I have called and you refused,
   have stretched out my hand and no one heeded,
and because you have ignored all my counsel
   and would have none of my reproof,
I also will laugh at your calamity;
   I will mock when panic strikes you,
when panic strikes you like a storm,
   and your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
   when distress and anguish come upon you.
Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer;
   they will seek me diligently, but will not find me.
Because they hated knowledge
   and did not choose the fear of the Lord,
would have none of my counsel,
   and despised all my reproof,
therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way
   and be sated with their own devices.
For waywardness kills the simple,
   and the complacency of fools destroys them;
but those who listen to me will be secure
   and will live at ease, without dread of disaster.’ 

The Value of Wisdom

My child, if you accept my words
   and treasure up my commandments within you,
making your ear attentive to wisdom
   and inclining your heart to understanding;
if you indeed cry out for insight,
   and raise your voice for understanding;
if you seek it like silver,
   and search for it as for hidden treasures—
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
   and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
   from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
he stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
   he is a shield to those who walk blamelessly,
guarding the paths of justice
   and preserving the way of his faithful ones.
Then you will understand righteousness and justice
   and equity, every good path;
for wisdom will come into your heart,
   and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
prudence will watch over you;
   and understanding will guard you.
It will save you from the way of evil,
   from those who speak perversely,
who forsake the paths of uprightness
   to walk in the ways of darkness,
who rejoice in doing evil
   and delight in the perverseness of evil;
those whose paths are crooked,
   and who are devious in their ways. 

You will be saved from the loose woman,
   from the adulteress with her smooth words,
who forsakes the partner of her youth
   and forgets her sacred covenant;
for her way leads down to death,
   and her paths to the shades;
those who go to her never come back,
   nor do they regain the paths of life. 

Therefore walk in the way of the good,
   and keep to the paths of the just.
For the upright will abide in the land,
   and the innocent will remain in it;
but the wicked will be cut off from the land,
   and the treacherous will be rooted out of it.

Admonition to Trust and Honour God

My child, do not forget my teaching,
   but let your heart keep my commandments;
for length of days and years of life
   and abundant welfare they will give you. 

Do not let loyalty and faithfulness forsake you;
   bind them round your neck,
   write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favour and good repute
   in the sight of God and of people. 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
   and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
   and he will make straight your paths.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
   fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be a healing for your flesh
   and a refreshment for your body. 

Honour the Lord with your substance
   and with the first fruits of all your produce;
then your barns will be filled with plenty,
   and your vats will be bursting with wine. 

My child, do not despise the Lord’s discipline
   or be weary of his reproof,
for the Lord reproves the one he loves,
   as a father the son in whom he delights. 

The True Wealth


Happy are those who find wisdom,
   and those who get understanding,
for her income is better than silver,
   and her revenue better than gold.
She is more precious than jewels,
   and nothing you desire can compare with her.
Long life is in her right hand;
   in her left hand are riches and honour.
Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
   and all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;
   those who hold her fast are called happy. 

God’s Wisdom in Creation


The Lord by wisdom founded the earth;
   by understanding he established the heavens;
by his knowledge the deeps broke open,
   and the clouds drop down the dew.

The True Security


My child, do not let these escape from your sight:
   keep sound wisdom and prudence,
and they will be life for your soul
   and adornment for your neck.
Then you will walk on your way securely
   and your foot will not stumble.
If you sit down, you will not be afraid;
   when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
Do not be afraid of sudden panic,
   or of the storm that strikes the wicked;
for the Lord will be your confidence
   and will keep your foot from being caught. 

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
   when it is in your power to do it.
Do not say to your neighbour, ‘Go, and come again;
   tomorrow I will give it’—when you have it with you.
Do not plan harm against your neighbour
   who lives trustingly beside you.
Do not quarrel with anyone without cause,
   when no harm has been done to you.
Do not envy the violent
   and do not choose any of their ways;
for the perverse are an abomination to the Lord,
   but the upright are in his confidence.
The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked,
   but he blesses the abode of the righteous.
Towards the scorners he is scornful,
   but to the humble he shows favour.
The wise will inherit honour,
   but stubborn fools, disgrace. 

Parental Advice

Listen, children, to a father’s instruction,
   and be attentive, that you may gain insight;
for I give you good precepts:
   do not forsake my teaching.
When I was a son with my father,
   tender, and my mother’s favourite,
he taught me, and said to me,
‘Let your heart hold fast my words;
   keep my commandments, and live.
Get wisdom; get insight: do not forget, nor turn away
   from the words of my mouth.
Do not forsake her, and she will keep you;
   love her, and she will guard you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,
   and whatever else you get, get insight.
Prize her highly, and she will exalt you;
   she will honour you if you embrace her.
She will place on your head a fair garland;
   she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.’ 

Admonition to Keep to the Right Path


Hear, my child, and accept my words,
   that the years of your life may be many.
I have taught you the way of wisdom;
   I have led you in the paths of uprightness.
When you walk, your step will not be hampered;
   and if you run, you will not stumble.
Keep hold of instruction; do not let go;
   guard her, for she is your life.
Do not enter the path of the wicked,
   and do not walk in the way of evildoers.
Avoid it; do not go on it;
   turn away from it and pass on.
For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong;
   they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble.
For they eat the bread of wickedness
   and drink the wine of violence.
But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
   which shines brighter and brighter until full day.
The way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
   they do not know what they stumble over.
My child, be attentive to my words;
   incline your ear to my sayings.
Do not let them escape from your sight;
   keep them within your heart.
For they are life to those who find them,
   and healing to all their flesh.
Keep your heart with all vigilance,
   for from it flow the springs of life.
Put away from you crooked speech,
   and put devious talk far from you.
Let your eyes look directly forwards,
   and your gaze be straight before you.
Keep straight the path of your feet,
   and all your ways will be sure.
Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
   turn your foot away from evil. 

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Like Father Like Son

KEY THOUGHT
God’s wisdom is the true basis for “the good life.”

OVERVIEW
The Book of Proverbs contains the writings of Israel’s King Solomon, to whom God gave a unique gift of wisdom (1 Kings 2.1-3.28). Solomon understood that true wisdom begins with “the fear of the Lord” (1.7; 2.5) and is the foundation for godly living. God’s wisdom also protects us against evil and its consequences (1.10-19) and provides us with happiness and health (3.13-26). But it’s important to note that Solomon is talking about wisdom that is a heart commitment to learn and follow God’s ways (4.23).

CHALLENGE
YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE SMART TO BE WISE. YOU JUST NEED TO FOLLOW GOD’S WORD.