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4th June

Proverbs 13-15; Psalm 150

Bible in a Year
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4th June

Proverbs 13-15; Psalm 150

Bible in a Year


So far in Proverbs, we’ve read through the introductory speeches from a father to his son and started the wisdom one liners. We learnt that wisdom is to be practised but that these aren't 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 lens through which the wisdom sayings are looking through.

Proverbs 13-15

As mentioned yesterday, because the proverbs aren’t passages you study, but passages you soak yourselves in, I’m not unpacking what they mean. Instead I’m modelling what applying the proverbs to your life could look like. Try to find a handful of proverbs that jump out to you in today’s reading. Here are some that jump out to me.

"Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox." (Proverbs 14:4). Oxens are messy, they require a lot of cleaning, and so it makes sense that if you had no oxen, then that's a mess you would never have to clean. But oxen are useful. At this time, they were incredible at helping the people farm and produce food. While no oxen would mean no mess, it would also mean no food.

People are also messy, though in a very different way. We often make poor decisions and get ourselves in trouble, or lash out at people because we're hurting. I've often heard people say that church would be better if it had no people. But like oxen, people are important. Without people we can't do church, we can't be challenged and grow as individuals. Yes, people are messy, but that mess is an essential part of doing life together, of being one family.

So when I read this proverb I learn to not despise the mess, but to lean into it. People are worth the mess, and I want to be better are dealing with the mess so I can enjoy the people. To use a modern saying, yes people can be messy, but I wouldn't want to throw the baby out with the bath water.

"In a multitude of people is the glory of a king, but without people a prince is ruined." (Proverbs 14:28). I can imagine as a king it would be very easy to think a lot about yourself. You rule a nation. You have a lot of power and a lot of wealth. But a king is nothing without their people. If you were a king of a little island and you were the only one on it, that would be pretty sad.

In the same way, it's very easy to think a lot of yourself when you're in a position of leadership. You might be responsible for a lot and have a lot of power. But as a leader, you are nothing without the people underneath you. It's their wisdom, their understanding, their willingness to serve and support your vision that gives your leadership any strength.

As a leader or someone with influence, I never want to rejoice in my own ability and position. I want to rejoice in the people I lead and impact. In their willingness and gifting. I want to be a leader people want to follow, not for me, but because these people deserve a good leader.

"A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." (Proverbs 15:1). When someone gets in our face or says something we don't like, it's very easy to respond harshly. I can be awful for this. I will often get back in their face, or even go on the offensive, attacking them for saying whatever they said.

The problem with this, as I'm sure you know yourself, is it tends to make things worse. It adds fuel to the flame, and before you know it, we're both walking away angry. Instead, a soft answer can often do so much more. It can calm down someone who is already angry, and can stop a conversation from escalating unnecessarily. In every conversation I'm in, I want to make sure I'm speaking soft words with love, not harsh words out of anger.

"Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed." (Proverbs 15:22). A good king or leader is only as good as those that advise them. If you imagine a king, they need to be good with money to balance the finances of a nation. They need to be a good military leader to deal with foreign armies. They need to be able to create great systems and infrastructures to help the nation run. Really, they need to be an expert in everything. This is too much for one person. This is why kings would have advisors, specialists in finance, and war, and administration. These were people that knew what they were talking about that could advise the king on what is best.

In our personal lives, we need good advisors. Too often we're blind to our own weaknesses and so make poor decisions that then come back to bite us. Instead, we should be actively seeking people that know more about these areas on us, and that we can trust to give us good advice. This might be in the area of relationships, work, finance, learning a new skill, or growing to be more like Jesus. Whatever the issue we face, we can help ourselves make better decisions by seeking out good people, that know more than us, and that we can trust.

Psalm 150

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.

Psalm 150:1 - The place of praise

Psalm 150:2 - The reason for praise

Psalm 150:3-5 - The instruments of praise

Psalm 150:6 - Let everything praise

The psalmist opens with a call to praise the Lord in the sanctuary and the mighty firmament. One way of interpretation this is that the sanctuary is the temple, God’s presence on earth. The firmament is the heavens. So the call is those on earth and those in heaven to praise the Lord.

Next up is the reason. We are to praise the Lord for his mighty deeds and for his surpassing greatness. In other words, praise him for what he does, and for who he is.

The comes a list of instruments we should praise the Lord with. The point the psalmist is making is that the whole orchestra should come together to praise the Lord. Each instrument bringing its unique sound to build together into a crescendo of praise.

Finally, the psalmist calls all things that have breath to praise the Lord. This could be a reference back to Genesis 2:7 where God breathed life into humans. This, then, would carry a responsibility. Just as the Lord gave us breath, we should then give that breath back to him in praise.

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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