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

Monday, June 10, 2013

June 10 - Proverbs 22-24: Solomon's Thirty Precepts

Today’s Reading: Proverbs 22-24

The Message

English Standard Version


Today's reading ends the concentrated Proverbs reading. We will pick up with Proverbs in a week to read the last of Solomon's section.

Thought to Guide Your Reading

A lazy man eventually ends up poor.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

God made both the rich and the poor.
The poor will be ruled by their creditors.
Generous people are blessed because they give to the poor.
Solomon gave thirty principles on treating the poor, anger, gambling, changing boundaries, excelling at work, good impressions on influential people, getting rich, stingy people, helping fools, cheating orphans, spanking children, respecting parents, envying rebels and bad people, the effects of drinking, whores, building a house, wisdom vs. strength, wise conversations, evil reputations, staying strong, rescuing the perishing, eating wisdom, hurting godly people, laughing at plight, avoiding braggarts, and fearing God.
Naps lead to poverty.

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

The rich and the poor are equally made by God.

Solomon has encouraged both the rich and (today) the poor to develop a listening relationship. He warned the rich that riches gained with shady practices are no help. He warned the poor that their bad habits bring on their poverty and servitude. He tells the rich to help the poor and not crush them because they can. Neither the rich nor the poor can laud over the other. They are all equal in God.

The lazy use danger to excuse work to their demise.

Solomon mentions laziness twice in this section. The first is a lazy person terrified of a theoretical lion that could eat him if he went into the fields. The second is the result of these excuses—an overgrown field. Lions did live in Israel. However, the likelihood that a lion would attack while working would be very low (or this proverb would be callous). The lazy person, however, does not allow logic to get in the way of a good day's rest. Fear causes excuses which cause poverty.
Today, we may not fear lions, and tigers, and bears (oh, my!) in the streets, but we do allow fear to prevent us from getting into the lives of others, especially those who may have checkered pasts or may live dodgy lives. We may also allow fear to prevent us from applying ourselves to our jobs and therefore limit the amount of blessings we receive. Do not give in to fear—it will lead to poverty.

People who excel at their work will be highly rewarded.

In a jaded age where we question success, Solomon calls us to remember that successful people are not born overnight. They hone their craft and develop a reputation of success. This reputation helps them become successful. Those who excel at their work will always be in demand.

Disciplining children help them become wise.

There is a thriving debate over whether spanking helps or harms children. To give some perspective on this advice, Solomon has seen three of his half-brothers do terrible things. These terrible events happened because their father was unwilling to correct them. So Solomon's suggestion that "a spanking won't kill them" (23:14, The Message) comes from what he has seen. Discipline your children. If it requires spanking, spank. If it doesn't, don’t. Do not think of this as either a blanket cure-all or a barbarous, antiquated suggestion.

Excuses to not help the perishing are not valid.

I will openly admit I'm a libertarian (with a little "l"). When I read this I recoiled in pain. I know many libertarians (big or small "l") who would disagree with this proverb. However, I would like to put this into context. Solomon has often encouraged not helping a fool because a fool will turn against and fight you. This is a very simple and clear standard: fool = those who fight help, therefore do not help. So I doubt Solomon is contradicting himself here. I believe he is repeating what he wrote a few chapters back that if we have the means we should help someone. If a person is dying, would receive help, and we can help them we are under obligation to help them because of their advocate, not their humanity. Individualism aside, we must help those who in need when we can.

What are your thoughts on the "Thirty Precepts?"

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