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Wednesday, January 31 2024

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

The theme of the entire book of Proverbs is centered around wisdom for living in the world, guided by righteousness and biblical principles, as opposed to the folly the world offers. In last week’s study, we explored Chapters 18 -24 as we sought for additional wisdom while contrasting the ways of the wise and unwise and how this impacted on our daily living and relationships with God and men. Today’s study continues in the same light as we bring the Proverbs challenge of this year to an end. Chapter 25 began a series of wise sayings attributed to Solomon and collected from other sources by Hezekiah's men. (Proverbs 25:1) This list continues through to the end of chapter 29. Chapter 30 are the words of Agur the son of Jakeh, (Proverbs 30:1) and Chapter 31 are the words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him. (Proverbs 31:1)

Proverbs Chapter 25 offers practical insights for virtuous living and cultivating positive qualities. It talks about . . .

• Refining Character: Verses 4-5
These verses make use of metaphors like removing impurities from silver to illustrate refining a person’s character
“Remove impurities from the silver and the silversmith can craft a fine chalice; Remove the wicked from leadership and authority will be credible and God-honoring.”

It advises on the following:

• Wisdom & Humility: Verses 6-7
“Don’t work yourself into the spotlight; don’t push your way into the place of prominence.
It’s better to be promoted to a place of honor than face humiliation by being demoted.” (MSG). Humility opens doors to honour. See the story told by Jesus in Luke 14:7.

• Reliability & Trust: Verses 13 & 19
“Reliable friends who do what they say are like cool drinks in sweltering heat—refreshing!”
“Like a broken tooth or a lame foot is reliance on the unfaithful in a time of trouble.”

The ear mark of reliable friendship is meaning and doing what one says.
Prayer: “Lord Jesus, please surround me with reliable friends and grant me the grace to be a reliable friend myself”

Proverbs 25 also highlights the importance of:

• Self-Control: Verses 16-17
“When you’re given a box of candy, don’t gulp it all down; eat too much chocolate and you’ll make yourself sick; And when you find a friend, don’t outwear your welcome; show up at all hours and he’ll soon get fed up.”

We must humbly accept wisdom, because it is what enables us apply tact and discretion when dealing with others and to have a consistent lifestyle guided by biblical principles and self-control.

Proverbs Chapter 26 contrasts the foolish and the wise. It underscores the importance of discernment and prudence in various life situations. Such as:

• How to Answer a Fool: Verses 4-5
“Don’t respond to the stupidity of a fool; you’ll only look foolish yourself. 5 Answer a fool in simple terms so he doesn’t get a swelled head.”
Never stoop low to the level of fools in order to make a point or retaliate.

“Never Wrestle with a Pig. You will Both Get Dirty and the Pig enjoys It”
To wrestle with a pig is to engage in a struggle with an opponent that benefits from the struggle even without winning it.

Prayer: “Lord Jesus, please help me to always be the bigger person and not respond to the words of a fool with more foolish words. Instead, I will answer with words of wisdom seasoned with salt and grace.”

The Chapter also cautions us against:

• Undeserved Honor for fools: Verses 6-10.
“You’re only asking for trouble when you send a message by a fool. 7 A proverb quoted by fools is limp as a wet noodle. 8 Putting a fool in a place of honor is like setting a mud brick on a marble column. 9 To ask a moron to quote a proverb is like putting a scalpel in the hands of a drunk. 10 Hire a fool or a drunk and you shoot yourself in the foot.”

In this chapter, Solomon uses vivid imagery, like a dog returning to its vomit, to stress the folly of repeating mistakes (verse 11). He also discusses the lazy person (verses 13-15) and warns against meddling in others’ disputes. (verse 17) gossip, flattery, slander, etc. (verses 20-26)

We must not join with those who make outrageous excuses for their lack of effort. Giving reasons and justifying why they fail to meet their obligations. This is not only lazy, but it's also a form of arrogance.

Proverbs Chapter 27 advises against . . .

• Self-praise: Verses 1- 2
“Don’t brag about tomorrow, since you don’t know what the day will bring. 2 Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth—a stranger, not your own lips.”
Arrogance of any kind is risky. (James 4:13–15), king Nebuchadnezzar, the rich fool. etc.

The chapter delves into themes of . . .

• Friendship: Verses 6, 9, 10
A friend who loves and who fears God is well-equipped to give godly counsel, and his friend will receive it gladly. The wounds “inflicted” by such a friend are for our good because they will only rebuke us if we need it. However, those who hate us will gladly enable and empower our own foolishness because they know it will harm us in the end. It stresses the value of genuine friendships, comparing them to iron sharpening iron (verse 17).
The more we have “spiritual interaction” with one another the more we are sharpened, strengthened and encouraged. People influence one another whether they are trying to or not, and this is why evil communication corrupts good manners (1 Corinthians 15:33). It is also why being around wise people can be beneficial to one’s heart, mind, and soul if any humility is present.

It spells out
• The Benefits of Service: Verse 18
“Tend an orchard and you’ll have fruit to eat. Serve the Master’s interests and you’ll receive honor that’s sweet.” TPT

It highlights . . .

• Humility, Purity and Sincerity: Verses 19, 21
The heart of man is the real man, and what is in the heart will be reflected by what is said and done. The fruit from a persons’ life will reveal whether a person’s heart is good or evil (Matthew 7:20, Mark 7:20).

• The fleeting nature of life, Commitment and Good Stewardship: Verses 23-27
“Know your sheep by name; carefully attend to your flocks; (Don’t take them for granted; possessions don’t last forever, you know.) And then, when the crops are in and the harvest is stored in the barns, You can knit sweaters from lambs’ wool, and sell your goats for a profit; There will be plenty of milk and meat to last your family through the winter.” (MSG)

A diligent farmer cares for his flock, doing his best to ensure a prosperous future. Current wealth does not guarantee future wealth, so it's wise to plan ahead. A lazy or irresponsible person risks falling behind and failing to provide for their family.

Those who have faithfully tended to the little things day after day will find that they have what they need in the day of trouble. It is never good or wise to neglect the little things while presuming on one big thing to work out. Similarly, spiritual fruit is often a result of daily investments made and service done rather than one big accomplishment or event. Luke 16:10 says, “one who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much”

Proverbs Chapter 28 offers guidance on ethical living and the consequences of moral choices. Teaching us that:

• The consequence of wickedness and evil is fear. Verse 1
“The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.”

• Moral integrity is worth far more than material wealth. Verse 6
“Better the poor whose walk is blameless than the rich whose ways are perverse.”

• Flattery and dishonesty have no long term benefits: Verse 23
“If you correct someone with constructive criticism, in the end he will appreciate it more than flattery.” TPT
The NLT says: “In the end, people appreciate honest criticism far more than flattery.”

• It is foolishness to make the same mistake others have made: Verse 26
“If you think you know it all, you’re a fool for sure; real survivors learn wisdom from others”

We must always be future-thinking and concerned about what truly matters and not become someone who massages another’s ego or expects someone to massage ours. So we must tell, expect and accept the truth even if it hurts now for the sake of the future.

Proverbs Chapter 29 highlights

• The importance of discipline and heeding correction: Verses 15, 17 & 19
Verse 19: “Discipline your children, and they will give you peace of mind and will make your heart glad.” NLT
Discipline a child early enough in life to avoid heartache in the future

Severally in the book of Proverbs we are admonished to discipline our children. Many restrain from discipline and indulge them indiscriminately because they think they love their children too much but Proverbs 13:24 (TPT) says: “If you withhold correction and punishment from your children, you demonstrate a lack of true love. So prove your love and be prompt to punish them.”

Proverbs 19:18 (TPT) says: “Don’t be afraid to discipline your children while they’re still young enough to learn. Don’t indulge your children or be swayed by their protests.”

”Indulgence is not a mark of love but a bait for destruction”

Proverbs Chapter 30 contains the sayings of Agur, offers reflections on humility, gratitude, and the awe-inspiring nature of God. The writer expresses a sense of inadequacy and marvels at the wisdom of God (Verses 2-4).

• Every word of God is tried, tested and proven true: Verse 5
“Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to him for protection.” NLT

Psalm 12:6 tells us that “The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times”
We must never doubt God’s Words; especially what it says about us.

Prayer: Lord Jesus please grant us the grace and strength to continually trust in Your unfailing Word

Chapter 30 also includes observations about nature and the mysterious aspects of creation, showcasing the limits of human understanding. Verses 18-31
The chapter ends with a warning about natural consequences. Whether one intends to, or not, churning milk will turn it into butter. Punching someone in the nose will make them bleed. And provoking others to anger results in anguish and controversy. For that reason, a person who realizes they've been acting like a fool should take steps towards self-control: even if it means clamping a hand over their own mouth.

Proverbs Chapter 31 is split into two interesting sections
• Part 1 (verses 1-9)
Consists of godly advice for kings or those who have the ambition to be successful in life around women and drink. Verse 4: “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, It is not for kings to drink wine, Nor for princes intoxicating drink;. . .”
“Grow a wise heart—you’ll do yourself a favor; keep a clear head—you’ll find a good life.”
MSG 8:19 Proverbs

The Bible does not say “Thou shall not drink” But it points us in the directions of the consequences of drinking. Read Proverbs 20:1 and 23:20-21, 29-35

• Part 2 (verses 10-31)
Presents the “virtuous woman,” extolling her qualities and contributions. It describes her industriousness, kindness, and wisdom, emphasizing her value in both household and community. The chapter provides a vivid portrait of an ideal wife and mother, highlighting virtues such as diligence, generosity, and fear of the Lord. Ultimately, Proverbs 31 serves as a tribute to the capable and virtuous woman, offering a model of character and strength.
Verses 10 – 31 describes the "excellent wife." She is remarkable, in part, because of how rare it is to find such qualities (See Proverbs 20:6). Over the course of the passage, she is noted with traits directly opposed to the "fools" mentioned in earlier passages. Many men read these verses and pass them off as being for women only, but I do not believe qualities such as trustworthiness, hard work, diligence, preparedness, care, kindness, wisdom, and honor are reserved for women, only. Rather, they speak of attributes any person would benefit from, and aspire to possess.

Wednesday, January 24 2024

Contributor: Esther Alajiki

As we continue to glean wisdom in our study of the book of Proverbs, we will be exploring Chapters 18 -24 for additional wisdom and contrasting the ways of the wise and unwise and how this impacts on our daily living and relationships with God and men.

Chapter 18 - Contrast the Upright and the Wicked
Verses 1-7: "1He who [willfully] separates himself [from God and man] seeks his own desire, He quarrels against all sound wisdom. 2A [closed-minded] fool does not delight in understanding, But only in revealing his personal opinions [unwittingly displaying his self-indulgence and his stupidity].6A fool’s lips bring contention and strife, And his mouth invites a beating. 7A fool’s mouth is his ruin, And his lips are the snare of his soul. 10The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous runs to it and is safe and set on high [far above evil]."

Verse 15: "The mind of the prudent [always] acquires knowledge, And the ear of the wise [always] seeks knowledge."

Verses 20-21: "A man’s stomach will be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; He will be satisfied with the consequence of his words. 21Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and bear the consequences of their words."

• Revelation
The verses talk about the fools and way of life, A fool has no delight in understanding, is haughty, trusts in his wealth, spreads gossip lies. Slothfulness .etc. the wise man or woman has great satisfaction in knowledge, understanding, wisdom, diligence, is humble and trusts in the Lord.

• Application
We must intentionally reflect on the choices we make as these directs the course of our lives and relationships. We need to desire and pursue wisdom.

Chapter 19: On Life and Conduct
Verse 8: "He who gains wisdom and good sense loves (preserves) his own soul; He who keeps understanding will find good and prosper."

Verses 15-16: "Laziness casts one into a deep sleep [unmindful of lost opportunity], And the idle person will suffer hunger. 16He who keeps and obeys the commandment [of the LORD] keeps (guards) his own life, But he who is careless of his ways and conduct will die."

Verse 18: "Discipline and teach your son while there is hope, And do not [indulge your anger or resentment by imposing inappropriate punishment nor] desire his destruction. Verse 23: The fear of the LORD leads to life, So that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil."

Verse 29: "Judgments are prepared for scoffers, And beatings for the backs of [thickheaded] fools."

• Revelation
Our lives and conduct must align with the word of God is we want to prosper and live long, the fear of the Lord will protect us from evil. It is a must to train the children at the appropriate age and time in the appropriate way, There is not an endless window of opportunity to chasten and wisely discipline our children. Age and circumstances limit the opportunity for effective training, so it must be done while there is hope.

• Application
We must allow God to guide us and we will enjoy the peace that passes all understanding and will not be visited with evil but the wicked will not escape penalty. God wants us to choose wisely.

Chapter 20: On Life and Conduct
Verses 3-4: “It is an honor for a man to keep away from strife [by handling situations with thoughtful foresight], But any fool will [start a] quarrel [without regard for the consequences]. 4The lazy man does not plow when the winter [planting] season arrives; So he begs at the [next] harvest and has nothing [to reap].”

Verses 17-18: “Food gained by deceit is sweet to a man, But afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel. 18 Plans are established by counsel; So make war [only] with wise guidance.”

Verse 24: “Man’s steps are ordered and ordained by the LORD. How then can a man [fully] understand his way?”

Verse 27: “The spirit (conscience) of man is the lamp of the LORD, Searching and examining all the innermost parts of his being.”

• Revelation
Lack of consequential thinking has consequences. Sin. Laziness, evil… may be sweet at first, but later its consequences bring despair]. Don’t only plan ensure you have wise counsel, ensure God is the one that leads you, he is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent.

• Application
If God seats upon the throne of our heart, our lives will reflect his blessing. Press in to God.

Chapter 21 – God is Sovereign
Verse 2: "Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the hearts"
God’s discernment goes beyond unmasking those who fool others; he even finds out those who have fooled themselves.

Verse 16: “A man who wanders from the way of understanding, Will rest in the assembly of the dead.”
Solomon began on the way of understanding, the departure from the way of understanding doesn’t have to be calculated and deliberate; it may feel like wandering.

Verse 21: “He who follows righteousness and mercy Finds life, righteousness, and honor”            This is the path of wisdom, God’s path for those who will listen and surrender to God, it isn’t easy and is often opposed and mocked yet it is rewarded by God.

Verse 27: “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination; How much more when he brings it with wicked intent!”
When a sacrifice is offered, the priest or observers may not be able to see wicked intent, but God can.

Verses 30-31: “There is no wisdom or understanding or counsel against the LORD. The horse is prepared for the day of battle, But deliverance is of the LORD.”
God is sovereign

• Application
Take heed, God sees in secret and open and we must fear him above all.

Chapter 22 How to Live a Life of Wisdom
Verse 3: “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself . . .”
Prevision is the best means of prevention

Verse 6: “Train up a child in the way he should go . . .”
With the gift of a child is the responsibility to train

Verses 17-21: “The value of the words of the wise . . .”
The heart and mind must be open to receive wisdom, true wisdom makes us more dependent on God

Verses 22-23: “Treat the poor fairly . . .”
God Himself will plead their cause and will plunder the soul of those who plunder the poor.

Verses 24-25: “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, . . .”
Warning against the angry man - Wisdom chooses friends carefully and should make no friendship with an angry man.

Verses 26-27: “Do not be one who shakes hands in pledge or puts up security for debts;”
Stay away from the debts of others - personal debt is to be avoided don’t become surety for debts of another person.

Verse 29: “Do you see someone skilled in their work?”
The reward of excellent work: Wisdom pushes us toward excellence- excellence of a man or woman’s work can give them great standing in the world. More importantly, it gives them standing before the King of kings, who promises to reward the one who works diligently unto Him (Colossians 3:23-24).

• Application
We must daily and intentionally allow the wisdom of God to order our lives

Chapter 23 Warnings
Verses 1-3: “When you sit to dine with a ruler, note well what is before you, . . .”
Curb your appetite or control yourself - Consider carefully what is before you; - Don’t grab everything set before you, it could fill your stomach but empty your spirit. (most initiation into witchcraft is through food, there are so many examples of people destroyed by food)

Verses 4-5: “Do not wear yourself out to get rich . . .”
Do not make an idol of wealth- Though working hard is a mark of wisdom, God must be first in our heart.

Verses 6-8: “Do not eat the food of a begrudging host, do not crave his delicacies . . .”
Do not eat at the table of a stingy man. - He doesn’t want you to really enjoy yourself at his table, be discerning.

Verse 9: “Do not speak to fools, for they will scorn your prudent words.”
Do not waste your words on the fool. The fool will not receive or appreciate your wisdom. It will be as Jesus later described – like throwing pearls before pigs (Matthew 7:6). Pray instead.

Verses 10-11: “Do not move an ancient boundary stone”
Do not steal from others – God is watching and there is a special curse for the thief. Zechariah 5:3

Verse 12: “Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.”
Do not neglect wisdom. - wisdom can be given out, but it must be received to be of any lasting good. The reception of wisdom isn’t passive; it is active, it must be received and applied.

Verses 13-14: “Do not withhold discipline from a child . . .”
Do not fail to correct your children. – connect and correct not brutalize.

Verses 17-18: “Do not let your heart envy sinners . . .”
Do not envy sinners - Be zealous for the fear of the LORD don’t be jealous of the wicked. Ps 73.

Verses 19-21: “Listen, my son, and be wise, and set your heart on the right path . . .”
Warnings about wine and women. The self-indulgent are reduced to destitution, Their full stomachs empty their minds

Verse 23: “Buy the truth and do not sell it—wisdom, instruction and insight as well.”
The attitude to have towards wisdom - Buy the truth, and do not sell it, and wisdom and instruction and understanding.

Verse 26-28: “My son, give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways . . .”
The danger of the immoral woman - Solomon could point to his own life as an example of wisdom when it came to the dangers of an immoral woman - Samson broke the bonds of his enemies, but he could not break the bonds of his own lusts

Verses 29-35: “Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? . . .”
The misery of abusing alcohol - eventually, the abuse of alcohol or drugs will bite and sting.

• Application
As a Christian Therefore see that you walk carefully [living life with honor, purpose, and courage; shunning those who tolerate and enable evil], not as the unwise, but as wise [sensible, intelligent, discerning people] Ephesians 5:15.

Chapter 24
Verses 3-9: Wisdom for the home
“Through wisdom a house is built, And by understanding it is established; By knowledge the rooms are filled With all precious and pleasant riches. . .”
Moral and spiritual values must be built through wisdom and established through understanding. The blessing of building a home with God’s wisdom, God’s understanding, and God’s knowledge will bring precious and pleasant riches in the spiritual sense and often in the material sense. God’s blessing is on the home that seeks and honors His wisdom. Wisdom strengthens, lack of wisdom results in folly.

Verses 11-12: Help those on their way to destruction
“Deliver those who are drawn toward death, And hold back those stumbling to the slaughter.”

Verses 15-20: The resilience of the righteous
“For a righteous man may fall seven times, and rise again. . .”

Verses 21-22: Respect for God and king.
“My son, fear the LORD and the king . . .”

Verses 23-25: The importance of true justice.
“It is not good to show partiality in judgment. . .”

Verse 27: Order your work wisely.
“Prepare your outside work, Make it fit for yourself in the field; And afterward build your house.”
Work should be done with proper planning and in the proper order.

Verses 30-34 The tragedy of the lazy man.
“I went past the field of a sluggard, past the vineyard of someone who has no sense. . .”
The lazy man did not plant the thorns or nettles, and he did not deliberately break down the stone wall. Yet his laziness made these things happen just as much as if he had deliberately done them. the spiritual sluggard has a neglected spirit - barren, instead of being sown with the seeds of grace becomes overgrown with thorns and nettles.

• Application
Build your life with God’s wisdom, and you will be fruitful and prosperous physically and spiritually.

Wednesday, January 17 2024

Contributor: Wale Abiona

In continuation of our study in the book of Proverbs, we will be looking at Chapters 11-17 for additional wisdom on how to live righteously with the understanding of consequences of failure to take counsel from God.
These chapters touch on the issue of making wise choices and the blessings and curses of pride. May the Holy spirit gives us understanding in Jesus' name.

Chapter 11 – The upright and the wicked.
Verse(s): 1–3, 7-8
"1 The Lord hates false scales, but he loves accurate weights. 2 Proud and boastful people will be shamed, but wisdom stays with those who are modest and humble. 3 Good people are guided by their honesty, but crooks who lie and cheat will ruin themselves." 

"7 When the wicked die, all their hopes are lost; everything they thought they could do comes to nothing. 8 Good people escape from trouble, but the wicked come along and are trapped by it."

Revelation: An upright, godly life leads a person in the right path. Those who reject wisdom are consumed and destroyed by their own evil.

Application: this chapter urges us to cultivate virtues and shun vices, illustrating the profound consequences that our actions can bring (Proverbs 11:30–31).

Chapter 12 – Wisdom and Foolishness.
Verse(s): 1-4; 15

"1 Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid. 2 A good man obtains favour from the Lord, But a man of wicked intentions He will condemn. 3 A man is not established by wickedness, But the root of the righteous cannot be moved. 4 An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, But she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones."

"15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But he who heeds counsel is wise."

Revelation: Those who embrace discipline will be wise and behave themselves wisely. They will keep themselves from destruction that follow those who are wicked.

Application: The knowledge of what is good and acceptable comes from following God’s instruction. When we are divinely guided, by instruction we will be established in righteousness (Proverbs 12:7).

Chapter 13 – Wise Choice
Verse(s): 3, 16, 17 & 20

"3 He who guards his mouth preserves his life, But he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction."

"16 Every prudent man acts with knowledge, But a fool lays open his folly."

"17 A wicked messenger falls into trouble, But a faithful ambassador brings health."

"20 He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed."

Revelation: It is better to be wise than to be foolish. Keeping right company is a sign of wisdom and spiritual maturity.

Application: We are to demonstrate wisdom in our utterance and avoid keeping company with the wicked because they lack understanding of spiritual things (Psalm 1:1).

Chapter 14 – Life and Death by choice
Verse(s): 1-3, 7 & 11-12

"1 The wise woman builds her house, But the foolish pulls it down with her hands. 2 He who walks in his uprightness fears the LORD, But he who is perverse in his ways despises Him. 3 In the mouth of a fool is a rod of pride, But the lips of the wise will preserve them."

"7 Go from the presence of a foolish man, When you do not perceive in him the lips of knowledge."

"11 The house of the wicked will be overthrown, But the tent of the upright will flourish. 12 There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death."

Revelation: It is foolish to reject God's truth and instruction. This will only lead to disaster.

Application: (Psalm 14:1; Proverbs 1:7). Sin is deceptive in nature and can make rejecting God instruction seem like a good idea, but the result is tragedy. To avoid negative earthly consequences, we should follow godly counsel and stay away from the ungodly. In either case, that which a person chooses—selfishness or godliness—is repaid to them. Proverbs 14:11–14).

Chapter 15 – A Soft Answer Turns Away Wrath – (Common sense)
Verse(s): 1- 5

"1 A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. 2 The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness. 3 The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Keeping watch on the evil and the good. 4 A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, But perverseness in it breaks the spirit. 5 A fool despises his father’s instruction, But he who receives correction is prudent."

Revelation: A wise person carefully chooses their response, rather than babbling out whatever comes to mind. Closely connected to this is the need to humbly accept correction (Proverbs 15:1–5). Also, God observes everything, despising the wicked's sacrifices but loving the prayers of the upright.

Application: If we are to follow peace with all men…, then we must learn to control our emotions. Cautious and gentle answers do not only prevent additional strife, but they also reduce whatever tension already exists. We must be careful and sensible to listen to godly wisdom. It is a sign of humility that comes through a reverent honor of God (Proverbs 15:33).

Chapter 16 – Calls for aligning our plans with God's purposes.
Verse(s): 1-3,  16 & 19

"1 The preparations of the heart belong to man, But the answer of the tongue is from the LORD. 2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the spirits. 3 Commit your works to the LORD, And your thoughts will be established."

"16 How much better to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver."

"19 Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, Than to divide the spoil with the proud."

Revelation: Human nature can lead us to arrogance and ignorance. Failure to seek God's will or examine our own motives can lead to disaster. Lord sees the heart, weighs the spirit, and determines what will happen. The Lord is sovereign; He has a purpose for everything He created. (vs 9). God detests arrogance—spiritual pride that causes a person to reject God—but is pleased when one turns away from evil. Godly wisdom is better than any material wealth.

Application: There is a clear distinction between evil people and those who are righteous. A righteous life is deemed better than silver or gold. A righteous life is the one that follow God’ original plan. Trusting in own strength or wisdom will only take us away from God’s presence. We should rather seek to align self with God’s plan for our life by taking counsel from his word.

Chapter 17 – Wisdom for righteous and godly daily living.
It outlines various life situations and offers timeless wisdom on how to navigate them.
The first section of this chapter deals with virtues such as family harmony and honesty. God cannot be deceived, and He knows precisely what's on each person's heart (Proverbs 17:1–6).
(Proverbs 17:7–21) These verses cover a wide range of ideas, which include sins that cause anger or division between people, friendship, and careful use of one's resources.
(Proverbs 17:22–28) These verses end with wisdom centered on godly spirituality and a controlled tongue.

Wednesday, January 10 2024

Contributor: Tobi Morakinyo

Proverbs are truths expressed in a somewhat obscured or coded way—short sayings filled with wisdom. The Book of Proverbs is one of the “Wisdom” Books in the Bible, alongside Psalms, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. King Solomon authored Proverbs during the early years of his reign after receiving the gift of wisdom he asked of God, and before he turned away from God. The book is like a father’s letter to his sons, and given the spirit of wisdom (God) in Solomon, he was writing the mind of God to his children as an earthly father speaking to his son. The primary purpose of the book is to teach wisdom, reaching not
only the young and inexperienced but also the learned. May the Lord open our understanding as we study this book afresh this month in Jesus' name.

Chapter 1 – The benefit of Proverbs , the enticement of sinners and the warning of wisdom
Proverbs 1 has three broad themes starting with the usefulness of Proverbs. For instance, vs 4 says, “To give subtlety to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.” This implies that though wisdom is attained by experience, young people, through listening to the wise and keeping to their instructions, can obtain wisdom that would normally take time to garner, thereby saving time and achieving desired results.
The point here is some life lessons should not necessarily be learned through personal experience; we leverage the lessons from the experience of others included in the Bible to lead an effective, productive, and kingdom-focused life. The Bible says in Romans 15:4, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”

The enticement of sinners (Proverbs 1:8-19) – Righteous (not moral) living is uncommon; this makes it common for believers to be enticed (vs 10), and as sons of God, we must be determined not to consent. Temptation will come, and it is not sinful to be tempted; yielding to temptation is sin.

Wisdom warns (1:20-33) - The tone changes here to the first person as Wisdom speaks of her loud invitation to people on a platter, but despite her effort, there was no response. She warns of a payback time when she will be sought after and needed but says, “I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh…” (vs 26-28) but “whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely and shall be quiet from the fear of evil” (vs 33). The key point here is that we should hearken diligently to the instructions of God so that we have Him as our ally as we proceed into the new year.

Chapter 2 – The pursuit of Wisdom.
Given our understanding of the benefits of wisdom and the danger of rejecting wisdom, this chapter reveals the extent we should be ready to go in the pursuit of wisdom. For instance, it says we should seek wisdom as silver; and search for her as hidden treasure (2:4). It further reveals that the Lord is the giver of wisdom (vs 6). This means to have wisdom; we should seek the custodian. “…If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever” (1 Chronicles 28:9c). However, God hides himself to be found by intentional and diligent seekers. He says “he is a rewarder of those that diligently seek him.”
So wisdom is one of the rewards of diligent seekers. This received wisdom, among others, will deliver the receiver from the ways of evil men (2:12), crooked ways (2:15), and strange women (2:16).

Chapter 3 – The blessing (rewards) of wisdom.
The chapter, like the previous one, highlights some nuggets for living, e.g., “bind mercy and truth around your neck (vs 3) to obtain favor of God and men; trust in the Lord and lean not on your understanding (vs 5-6); despise not correction from the Lord (vs 11-12); if you are to choose, buy wisdom not gold or silver (vs 14); and each coming with individual benefits. However, vs 35 sums up the benefit of living by godly wisdom - “to inherit glory and good testimonial of God and men.”

Chapter 4 –the Father’s instruction.
This chapter starts with a father's admonishment to his children to obey his commandment as their blessings are attached to their obedience. We can relate this to many other conditional blessings in the scripture, e.g., Deuteronomy 28:1-13 and Isaiah 1:19 – “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land.” It also highlights the importance of guarding one's heart with all diligence, for from it flows the issues of life (vs 20-23) – actions are first decided from the heart, and the consequences of our summed actions are what we have as our lives outcome. So we must be careful at what goes on in our hearts.

Chapters 5 & 7.: Warning against immoral women
Both chapters focus on the danger of adultery and the importance of marital fidelity. The father to his son describes the cunningness of a “strange woman” who through sweet mouth (5:3; 7:1-8) and warns that transactions with her will ultimately lead to destruction. “Let not thine heart decline to her ways; go not astray in her paths. For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.” (vs 25-27). For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life (6:26). The Father subsequently encourages young men to be satisfied and faithful to the wife of their youth, avoiding by all means the walking on the path with a strange woman.

Chapter 6 – Parental counsel.
It provides more nuggets for various aspects of life, including financial responsibility, work ethics, and relationships. For instance, it encourages diligence and hard work following the example of ants, emphasizing the importance of preparing for the future and avoiding laziness (6:6-11). Another important aspect can be found in vs 16-20, which highlights the seven abominations that the Lord hates - A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. (vs 16-19).

Chapters 8 & 9 –Wisdom calls for hearing and Wisdom invitation.
Both structures as a contrast between wisdom and folly, both personified as a woman. Proverbs 8 – 9:12 portrays a feast prepared by wisdom and her effort in inviting people to her banquet, especially the simple (young and inexperienced). Accepting her invitation yields longevity. On the other hand, folly similarly prepares her banquet and sends out an invitation targeting the simple with a catchphrase “stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is sweet” (vs 17). But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell (vs 18).

Chapter 10 –Contrast of righteous and wicked.
The chapter contrasts the lifestyle and outcomes of the wise and foolish. Overall, wisdom is portrayed as a source of blessing; prosperity and protection while foolishness lead to destruction and adversity (vs 8, 21). It also emphasizes the importance of speaking wisely and truthfully as opposed to gossip and spreading lies (vs 13, 18-21). It also encourages hard work and diligence as conditions for success and abundance (vs 4, 22).

May the Lord help us to be doers of His word in Jesus' name.


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