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3rd June

Proverbs 10-12; Psalm 149

Bible in a Year
7 minutes
In this article
3rd June

Proverbs 10-12; Psalm 149

Bible in a Year
7 minutes


So far in Proverbs, we’ve read through the introductory speeches from a father to his son. We learnt that wisdom is to be practised and that these are not promises or laws. They are principles for living out righteousness and justice. The father started out by warning his son to avoid following those who are wicked. Instead, he should chase after Lady Wisdom, the embodiment of wisdom. Lady Wisdom calls out to all to listen to her, but the foolish ignore.

The father explained the value of wisdom and how it only comes from God. It comes when we put our trust in God and not ourselves. And it also comes as part of righteousness. They’re a package deal. If you’re not living righteously, you’re not listening to wisdom. Wisdom should be a lifelong journey. It doesn’t happen overnight.

The father then brought a second character, the adulteress. While pursuing Lady Wisdom leads to righteousness and life, pursuing the adulteress will destroy your life. This wasn’t meant to serve on a commentary on women. It’s a father using the idea of a good woman and a bad woman to teach his son wise principles. The ways of the adulteress seem attractive to begin with, but they soon lead to destruction. Instead, the son should hold to integrity and right living. The father also offered some practical advice. From handling debt, to working hard, to keeping your talk honest.

Again the father warned about the temptings of the adulteress, the life that looks good but quickly destroys. He explained that she uses all sorts of tricks to distract you from thinking so she can lure you in. In order to protect yourself from this, you need to guard your thoughts from being clouded, not stray too close to temptation, and look beyond the immediate promises of pleasure to the consequences of these actions. In contrast, Lady Wisdom is an open feast where all are invited and should be encouraged to join. As long as you fear God and put your trust in him and his wisdom, then you will be blessed. All of this then becomes the lense through which the wisdom sayings are looking through.

Proverbs 10-12

In many ways, Proverbs isn't a book you 'study'. There is rarely any deeper meaning to these sayings. They are intentionally short and simple. Add to this the fact that they are, for the most part, randomly collected together, jumping from one topic to the other. All this makes it very hard to bring out key points to look at.

But while I say that these proverbs don't necessarily have a deeper meaning, I am not saying that they are neither deep nor meaningful. The depth of these proverbs comes from what they mean to us. Proverbs is a book not to be studied but to be regularly read and soaked in. There are 31 chapters in Proverbs, and our longest months have 31 days, so you can easily take a chapter a day and read through it every month of your life (sometimes doubling up your final day).

For me, there are always proverbs that are not relevant to me while I'm reading them. Maybe I'm not in that stage of life or I'm doing well in that area at that moment. But then there will be another proverb that challenges me in an area I've been weak in. Maybe I'd gone through a period of being angry at someone, and a proverb on anger would jump out and challenge me. But on a different month, anger may not be an issue, and so that same proverb on anger doesn't mean much to me. But that month a proverb on how I speak to others might jump out.

Proverbs is a book to be read slowly and regularly. As you read, don't be asking what the deeper meaning is, but more, what does this mean to me? Is there an area that I need to improve on at the moment? So as we read through these proverbs over the next few days, I'm not going to unpack what these proverbs mean. Instead, I'm going to look at what these proverbs mean to me.

This means I’ll be bringing my thoughts and my understanding of wisdom. These thoughts will probably be flawed and are definitely a reflection of where I’m at in my life. The specifics of what I bring aren’t actually important. What I’m hoping to model is how to go out about reflecting on applying the proverbs to your life. Please don't only look at the proverbs that I mention. There may be others that are key for you with where you’re at.

A regular theme that I find useful in proverbs is the words we speak. "The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence." (Proverbs 10:11). Growing up, we had our own saying, "what is down in the well comes up in the bucket". If I'm doing well, and I'm in a good place, then more often than not my words will be helpful and life giving to others.

But when I'm not in a great place, too often my words are barbed, perhaps hidden by niceties. I know for myself how sharp my words can get when I'm hurt or in a bad mood. But all this ends up doing is spreading that hurt to others. The world needs more life, not more violence. So I need to make sure that I'm in that good place, so that the words that come out of my mouth reflect that and help others.

"The wise lay up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool brings ruin near." (Proverbs 10:14). I love learning and knowledge, so I'm a big fan of this proverb. The more information any of us have, the better equipped we are to make good decisions. This doesn't just apply to intellectual topics. This applies to our relationships. When a family member or friend is angry or hurting, one of the best things we can do is listen and ask good questions so we have more information about what they're going through. Then we can better respond to them where they are, rather than responding out of our lack of knowledge and causing trouble.

Even some of the big, hot button topics in our society, such as gender equality, race, and sexual and transgender identities, are better handled when we know more. Learning more doesn't have to mean you change your views on these matters, but it should help you better understand the people on the other side. This help you better serve them and bring healing to brokenness.

"Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent." (Proverbs 11:12). This one seems more and more important in the world of social media. Too often we see people with the need to prove themselves right online. Maybe someone has posted something they don't like, and so we have to correct them. Don't. Foolish people try to belittle and correct others online.

Wise people remain silent. You don't need to prove yourself right 100% of the time. This is an area I struggle in, and is a daily wrestle. I regularly hear people say things that make me want to jump in and go, "Umm, actually, that is not correct." But this doesn't make our relationships deeper or richer. And nine times out of ten, we don't win the person to our side, anyway. Instead, we look stupid online or in person arguing with someone. Foolish people trying and belittle and correct those around them. Wise people remain silent.

It's worth noting that these proverbs and not meant to be seen as laws that apply to our lives equally in every situation. Sometimes it is right to correct someone, and we've all heard some variation of the saying, "the only thing necessary for evil to exist is for good people to remain silent." Wisdom is taking these proverbs and allowing them to challenge us where appropriate through the Holy Spirit.

Psalm 149

This psalm isn’t attributed to anyone in particular and falls into the category of praise psalm. These final five psalms (Psalm 146-150) serves as a doxology for the whole book of psalms. They praise God as king and speak his authority over all things. This psalm was likely sung after a military victory.

Psalm 149:1-4 - Praise the Lord, O Israel

Psalm 149:5-9 - Praise God in the midst of battle

The psalmist starts with a call to praise the Lord, specifically to Israel. The praise is to be communal as it’s done in the assembly. Israel should praise the Lord as their king. They dance and rejoice, taking pleasure in him as he takes pleasure in them, giving them victory.

But then the language turns militaristic. The praises of God’s people should be like a sword in their hand as they do warfare. As they war against other nations who have done wicked, and against kings and leaders, they should praise the Lord.

The message of bringing praise into warfare can be useful to us, if we recognise what appropriate warfare is. To draw on Paul’s writings “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12). If we’re going to do meaningful battle against darkness and wickedness, our trust and confidence needs to be in the Lord, and praise is a great way to reinforce this.

Anything you think I've missed? Maybe you've got a question that still needs answering. Send me a message over on my Instagram (@brynjoslin). I'd love to talk it through with you some more.

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