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God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Monday, June 3, 2013

June 3 - Proverbs 1-3: Introducing Solomon's Manual for Living -- Surprise! It's God's Manual After All

Today’s Reading: Proverbs 1-3

The Message

English Standard Version


Today we begin the wise sayings of Solomon, Proverbs. The first part of this book can be summarized easily; however, as we go through the summaries will transition to listing the topics instead of summarizing the chapters. We will continue this book solo until Solomon's portion is finished.

Since the book is a treasure-trove of setting things right I will attempt to give broader-themed comments instead of getting bogged down in the minutiae. Feel free to do so in the comments!

Thought to Guide Your Reading

The foundation of all wisdom is trusting in God's Way.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

These are the wise sayings of Solomon, his manual for living.
If you want to be wise the first step is bowing before God. Fools act like self-made humans.
These wise sayings will bring blessings.
Wicked people will lead you into a personal abyss.
Lady Wisdom calls for people to live better lives.
This book—it will become gold to your life.
Good company helps thwart bad ideas.
Life comes from wisdom, not physical blessings.
Think clearly with common sense—the recipe for stress-free living. Help your community if you are able and be courteous. God blesses and curses accordingly.

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

The book of Proverbs is a manual for living.

There have been several books similar to Proverbs—short sayings that help guide people to better living. Proverbs is a book as an ironic entry in the self-help genre—a book that states self-help comes from not doing what "self" wants. Although Proverbs stands along peers, you will find that it stands above and beyond all of them. This is because it came from the Creator. The book of Proverbs is a manual for living—God's manual for practical living.

The beginning of knowledge is to bow before God.

The Manual for Living (Proverbs) is a book filled with great sayings and important interpersonal, familial, and business advice. However, the most important part of the entire book, the part that if missed will cause the rest of the book to make no sense, is the first piece of advice—start with God. When our foundation is God, all things make sense. When our foundation is in something else it can only take us so far. Consider scientific or mathematical mindsets—highly rational and logical. Both can give great insights into how the world is made up and how it works. Great marvels of engineering, healthcare, and data processing mesh into an amazing world. However, logic alone cannot sustain life. Consider the story of Job. The entire point is that only God makes sense when all other things fail: possessions, physical life, family, religion, logic, reason. Nothing can compete with God's ability to set things right.

Setting things right will make life go well.

In what could be considered the way in which Solomon proves his point that when God is your foundation all things make sense, he uses several personifications of setting things right: Lady Wisdom, Knowledge, Common Sense, Madame Insight, etc. Each of these take you through their functions of setting things right in the book. They prevent bad situations and help through trials. But all of them ring with the same idea: setting things right makes life go well; in essence, setting things right for others will set things right for you.

Not setting things right—either by doing wrong things or by ignoring calls to set things right—will make life more stressed.

The second way that Solomon proves his point that God is the foundation of all things that make sense is the negative—pointing out where things go wrong. These, too, have personifications, though not as many: the Temptress, the Seductress, etc. They will try to make people not do what is right. Here is the difficult part—we cannot know the difference between the personifications of good and evil until God is our foundation. When God is our foundation we can live a relatively stress-free life because good and evil become as different as night and day. The gray areas of life, when examined, become patches of black and white which were only blurred together to make gray.

Giving freely when you are able and not being a bully leads to few enemies.

The first example Solomon uses is helping others. Never tell a neighbor you cannot give what they need if you actually can. We can debate the definition of "neighbor," "help," and/or "need" another time. What is important here is the idea that God does not take advantage of His People; therefore, His People should not take advantage of each other. When we take advantage of others we live worried about who will call, who will visit, and who is out to get us. God's Way circumvents that stress. God's Way leads to life.

Do you live without looking over your shoulder?

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