The Problem with Proverbs

A bribe is a lucky charm; whoever gives one will prosper! ~Proverbs 17:8

So, the key to success is bribery! The Bible says so, right?

Uh, no.

The problem with proverbs is when people view them as promises or godly commands when they are not. Most Proverbs aren’t promises. Proverbs is a collection of wise sayings that describe reality. In the case of 17:8, reality is that money talks.

fortune-cookies-936584_640I like to think of Proverbs as biblical fortune cookies. You (hopefully) don’t believe that fortune cookies are promises for the future. They are general, and sometimes funny, sayings that describe life. We must be careful not to take them for biblical commands unless they are reiterated elsewhere in the Bible. There is no place in Scripture that condones bribery.

This verse provides a perfect example of the danger of fly by theology (i.e. taking a verse out of context). If we keep reading in chapter 17, we come to this verse:

The wicked take secret bribes to pervert the course of justice. ~Proverbs 17:23

And one that is a promise because it mentions God specifically and agrees with the rest of Scripture:

Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent – both are detestable to the LORD. ~Proverbs 17:15

An important distinction, and hopefully a helpful one as well.


I hope you are enjoying your summer, my friends. I’ve transitioned from blog posting to prayer journaling. I’ll still post here occasionally as I feel compelled. In the meantime, let me know how I can pray for you. <Hugs>

Also, if you enjoy Kung Fu Panda and fortune cookies this site is fun. Don’t go there if you believe fortune telling is unbiblical, of course. 🙂

I’m back

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It’s been about 3 weeks since I’ve posted. (Don’t judge). Some good things have happened–I got a new Bible! But after 3 weeks of not being in the Word, things began to degrade in my spirit.

A feeling of unrightness.

A progressively bad attitude.

Depression.

Uncharitable thoughts which led me to a crisis of faith, not in God, but in leadership.

Fortunately, we met with some of our small group members yesterday afternoon, and I got clarity on the root of my issues. For me, it comes down to whether I can accept the limitations of others. The answer is that I can, once I realize what they are. Since I had no clue what was bothering me, I couldn’t make a conscious decision to let it go and redefine my boundaries. All vague, I know, but there you have it.

The biggest key, however, is refocusing on Jesus and getting back in God’s Word. A feeling of rightness restored. Peace in my spirit. An improved attitude. Hope. Charitable thoughts towards others.

Blessings on your day, my friends.

 

1 Kings 11: Jeroboam, rhymes with Rehoboam

Things that make you go hmmm…

Rereading 1 Kings 11 this morning, I realized that like David, God sent a prophet to Jeroboam to tell him he would become king of ten of the tribes of Israel (the northern ones). In fact, God made the same promise to him that he made to David and Solomon:

If you listen to what I tell you and follow my ways and do whatever I consider to be right, and if you obey my decrees and commands, as my servant David did, then I will always be with you. I will establish an enduring dynasty for you as I did for David, and I will give Israel to you.” v38

I always thought it was interesting that Jeroboam (king of the northern tribes) rhymed with Rehoboam, Solomon’s son and king of Judah. If for no other reason that it makes it easy to memorize. Who were kings when the nation of Israel split? Jeroboam and Rehoboam. Nice pneumonic there.

Unfortunately, neither -boam does a good job obeying God and so begins the end of the monarchy of Israel. It will take a long time to fall, but Solomon’s refusal to follow God with his whole heart was the beginning of the end.

What can we learn from Solomon, Rehoboam, and Jeroboam? For me, this morning, I think it’s to not squander the opportunities God gives us. Don’t spurn the blessings of obedience. What is God asking you to do today? Will you do it?

 

1 Kings 10: The Queen of Sheba

One thing I never realized until reading Tosca Lee’s book The Legend of Sheba: Rise of a Queen, was that historians believe Queen Balkir’s son was sired by Solomon. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, since he clearly had numerous wives and concubines, what was one more? And the romance…a dashing King, a legendary Queen…

But seriously. It is notable that she came over 1,200 miles to visit him for the purposes of making an alliance (between countries). Apparently, testing his wisdom was a way to determine whether a foreign monarch could be trusted to remain loyal and to make the correct moral and tactical considerations.

What is notable is that by visiting with Solomon, Balkir correctly recognized that it was God who provided wisdom to Solomon. As Dr. Thomas L. Constable observes, “In her visit we see Israel fulfilling its God-given purpose of bringing the Gentiles to Yahweh.” God set apart Israel as His holy people. It was by their example others were supposed to recognize that God was GOD and worship Him. Just like people are supposed to know God because of our words and actions.

Someone – I can’t remember if it was a pastor or a Christian radio DJ – put the question to his listeners, if someone were to hang around you for a day, how long would it take them to figure out you were a Christian without you telling them?

Be blessed, friends, and let God’s light shine through you in every word and deed as you go about your way today.

2 Chronicles 8: Foreshadowing

Solomon, the wisest king ever, was still a fool.

Solomon moved his wife, Pharaoh’s daughter, from the City of David to the new palace he had built for her. He said, “My wife must not live in King David’s palace, for the Ark of the LORD has been there, and it is holy ground.” v11

Solomon knew God’s prohibition against marrying foreign wives, yet he did it anyway. And not just once. Solomon had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3).

Solomon’s downfall is chronicled in 1 Kings 11. In his old age, he worshiped Ashtoreth (goddess) and Molech (fond of child sacrifice). And, predictably, God became very angry with Solomon.

So now the LORD said to him, “Since you have not kept my covenant and have disobeyed my decrees, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your servants. But for the sake of your father, David, I will not do this while you are still alive. I will take the kingdom away from your son. And even so, I will not take away the entire kingdom; I will let him be king of one tribe, for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, my chosen city.” ~1 Kings 11:9-13

This is a powerful warning, is it not? Even the wisest of us can fall into sin. He tiptoed in with his first wife, then went all-in with 999 more. He built them places to worship their gods, before eventually worshipping them himself, just as God predicted would happen in Deuteronomy 7:3-4.

David wasn’t sinless. He was an adulterer and murderer. The difference between David and Solomon was their hearts. David was a “man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22) and he was quick to repent when he realized he was wrong. There is no indication that Solomon ever repented. Foolish king.

But we are all foolish. I wonder where I am tiptoeing into sin? Or whether I’m all-in somewhere and don’t realize it? My prayer is that the LORD show me these areas and help me repent. I don’t want to follow the path of Solomon. I want to be like David and have a heart for God.

Blessings on your day.

Psalm 136: His faithful love endures forever

 

I couldn’t get this song out of my head this morning while trying to read this psalm. And then when I did, I kept putting the words of the psalm to the song. LOL.

So enjoy this throwback for today.

Twenty-six times in Psalm 136 (once for every verse), it says

His faithful love endures forever.

Amen?

Psalm 136

2 Chronicles 7: Why is it so hard to obey?

So God answered Solomon’s prayer with conditions. Much like we do as parents, God gave Solomon (and the nation of Israel) two choices.

  1. Obey (or repent and obey) and things will be wonderful.
  2. Disobey and serve other Gods and things will be horrible.

Easy, right?

Wrong. This is the same choice God gave the Israelites over and over in the Old Testament. “Serve me only and obey my commands.” Yet over and over again, the Israelites chose to disobey.

Why is it that it is so hard for people to choose the better option? I don’t think it’s that we think option 2 is better, it’s just that we can’t clearly see the consequences of our actions. I don’t wake up in the morning and say to myself, “Time to sin!” I just get busy doing things and forget about God. Or I fool myself into thinking I’m doing what he wants me to do.

I think this is the appeal of Amish fiction. (Stay with me here). For those of us who live in an age of technology and hedonism, the Amish way of life seems simple. I think in the back of our minds, we think that if life were less complicated, choosing option 1 would be easier.

I’m pretty sure it didn’t get any easier than the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve? They chose option 1. Which tells me we need to fight our human nature tooth and toenail, no matter what.

We still have two choices.

  1. A relationship with Christ Jesus.
  2. Burning in the pit of hell for eternity.

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. ~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18