Category Archives: Proverbs
Friendships and community are important aspects of sanctification and gifts from God. Wise choices in friendships will lead you to people who will refine you and be willing to lovingly confront you when needed. See Proverbs 24:26, 27:6; and 27:17.
But why is a good friend so hard to find? The reason is that sinners often sin when sinned against and your friends will sin against you. We will disappoint each other, quarrel and speak hurtful words. Proverbs 17:9 and Psalm 32:1 speak of the power of forgiveness and overlooking certain offenses so that in relationships, we can live out the gospel in many forms of reconciliation with one another.
In helping your children make choices on friends, there is a principle from Scripture to consider. I call it the Haggai 2 principle from Haggai 2:11-13, “Thus says the Lord of hosts: Ask the priests about the law: ‘If someone carries holy meat in the fold of his garment and touches with his fold bread or stew or wine or oil or any kind of food, does it become holy?’” The priests answered and said, “No.” Then Haggai said, “If someone who is unclean by contact with a dead body touches any of these, does it become unclean?” The priests answered and said, “It does become unclean.”
To summarize this, holiness does not spread to others but foolishness is contagious. Now this does not mean that someone cannot influence for the good, but generally when a kid who is on a good path matches up with a kid on a bad path, the path of companionship often ends up on the wrong path.
A parent’s responsibility is to give guidance, instruction and if necessary, interfere with the choices their child makes in regards to relationships. See Proverbs 1:10-19 for the pleas of a parent and what might happen if they do not listen.
What are some characteristics of a potential companion that Proverbs warns us to stay away:
2:12-15 – someone with perverted speech and does perverse of crooked things
3:31 – a violent person
4:14 – a wicked person who is opposed to purity
20:19 – a gossiper, slanderer, or babbler
22:10 – the scoffer
22:24 – an angry person
23:20-21 – drunkard or glutton
24:21 – rebellious to authority
Proverbs 6:12-15 breaks down the wicked or worthless person into 5 areas:
- Walks with a false mouth (gossip, slander, lies, immoral words, swears)
- Sins with the eyes (lustful looks, mocking, fault-finding)
- Signals with their feet (where they go)
- Points with their fingers (sends messages)
- Has a perverted heart (mischievous, rarely serious)
Your children need for you to point them in the right direction. Friendship starts with Christ who showed friendship by laying down his life for his friends (John 15:13)
Wisdom is a gift from God to us as parents that is part of how God has revealed himself to us. It is our responsibility as parents to obtain wisdom and then to pass it to our children. The Scriptures have a lot to say about guidance for our children in this area and warns us about ignoring the responsibility of appealing to them to follow the pathway of wisdom.
We must realize that Jesus Christ is our wisdom as we are rightly related to God through him. We are fallen sinners living in a very complex world that is made up of decisions and relationships and are trying to discover meaning in all of them. The gospel is God’s plan to rightly relate all things and so bring meaning back to order. We do not see the full extent of this right now because it is all confused by sin and the term Proverbs uses to describe this disorder is death. It is through Jesus Christ that life is restored.
As we look at attaining wisdom in Proverbs chapter 4 and bringing it to our children, we find an appeal to take the path of restoration and can see how it points to Christ. The chapter begins by a father’s call to his son to grab on to wisdom and that it is passed on from generation to generation. (1-4)
Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight, for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching. When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother, he taught me and said to me,“Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live.
For some of us, we as parents might be first generation Christians who do not have a legacy behind us. However we do stand with great leaders who have taught us. I think of pastors, authors, and great theologians of the past who have shaped me and I offer those to the next generation.
In the next section is a strong appeal to get wisdom. In other words, pursue Christ but know that it will cost you. Jesus never sugar coated the path of wisdom and spoke of losing your life in order to gain it. (5-9)
Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you.The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her. She will place on your head a graceful garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.”
Wisdom through Christ must be our life. To pursue wisdom other ways will only lead us on a journey of frustration, failure and expose us to the path of the wicked. Proverbs explains the Christian life here as a journey on a path which means we travel step by step. The fix for foolishness in my sin is not a quick fix but a day by day repentance as I consider what Jesus has done for me. The hope of the gospel is “like the light of dawn which shines brighter and brighter until full day.” (10-19)
Hear, my son, and accept my words, that the years of your life may be many. I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness. When you walk, your step will not be hampered, and if you run, you will not stumble. Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life. Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil. Avoid it; do not go on it;turn away from it and pass on. For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong;they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble. For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence. But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day. The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.
The final portion of this chapter is an appeal not to get lost in the journey and to pay attention to every step of the way. It is often our lack of awareness of our own sin that gets us lost and so the need to have God’s Word and loving brothers and sisters in Christ around me to insure that I am seeing myself and my attitudes clearly. It is part of your role as a parent to be the same to your children and guide them on he path of Proverbs life. We are all prone to self-deception and the key to clear vision is a heart that is focused on Christ and the gospel. (20-27)
My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.
Last week I dealt with the fool. This week I will address how parents move toward their children and how the children can move to their parents in wisdom.
First of all Proverbs points us to two places that wisdom begins: through the fear of the Lord and by knowledge. By this we can see that wisdom first is the characteristic of someone who is rightly related to God. When we consider the fullness of what foolishness is and what it brings, it is broken relationships. Sin separates us from God. Foolishness breaks the harmony of a relationship with others such as child to parent. The gospel is God’s remedy for brokenness whether it is our sin or eventually the redemption of the creation.
Secondly, if knowledge also is the beginning of wisdom, then wisdom suggests a concern for the way we use our minds. Wisdom is shown by the way our minds and hearts guide our actions. Our goal is to help our children develop a Christian mind that comes through the gospel so that we are “transformed by the renewing of our minds.”
Worldly wisdom or the thinking of the world is condemned to destruction (1 Corinthians 1:18-21) and is contrasted to Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God. When we are in Christ and have union with his life, death, and resurrection, we are enabled to engage in the task of putting things back in their order and place. Our relationship with God is restored because Christ’s merits are credited to us in the eyes of God and order is brought from the chaos of sin.
In John 10:10, Jesus offers life and said we can have it abundantly through him. The gospel that leads us to wisdom is not about what we can give to God through intellect but is about what God has and will do for us.
Tomorrow: Proverbs 4 and grasping wisdom.
The mocker, scoffer, or scorner is the final category of fool and the most severe. We start knowing this fool by their strong dislike of correction that brings on abuse, injury, and hatred to the one correcting (9:7,8; 13:1, 15:12). It is this hardness to correction that blocks any move you make to wisdom. They are a deliberate troublemaker who act with arrogance and their actions impact those around them including impressing some of the lower categories of fools (21:24, 29:8).
The discipline for such a person from Proverbs calls for tough love with the hope that God will do a work on the heart of such a fool. The reasons given in Proverbs for such tough measures are that the simple fool are too easily influenced by the scoffer (19:25, 21:11). They tend to cause division, strife, and quarreling (22:10) and their actions are plain and noted by all, believer or non-believer (24:9)
The reason to bring these categories this week to you is to realize the importance of moving toward your child while they are in the simple and ksil categories of a fool. Too often we see in children some foolish action and take it either too lightly or think that it is cute. Keep it up and one day you may be dealing with today’s category.
The fool of Proverbs represents one who has made a deliberate choice to reject instruction and training. It is not the result of ignorance and so the fool is totally responsible for their actions. Yesterday I posted about the first level of the fool from the Hebrew terms translated as fool. Today I present the next two levels, the “wil” fool and the “nabal” fool.
The “wil” fool comes from the Hebrew that implies weak minded but is usually associated with being strong-willed and determined. The word picture would be bull-headed because they are stubborn in their rebellion. Some characteristics of this fool from Proverbs is that they make up their mind to do something but when asked why they did it, they may say they really did not have a good reason. Other characteristics are quarrelsome, they reveal themselves often by their speech, impatient to advice, and mock sin. (See 12:15-16; 14:9, 17:28, 20:3, 27:3, 29:9).
The third level of fool is the “nabal” fool. You may recognize this word by the name of Abigail’s husband in 1 Samuel 25 and where in verse 25, Abigail in attempting to prevent King David from responding to a fool in a foolish way states, “Let not my lord regard this worthless fellow, Nabal, for as his name is, so he is. Nabal is his name and folly is with him.” The word implies being closed-minded or what is known as hard-hearted. This is the dangerous fool of Psalm 53:1 who says in their heart there is no God. In other words, they are functional atheists in their thinking and actions and have placed themselves in arrogance as sovereign in their life.
The danger of a fool at this point is they are near the final type of category of rebellion being the mocker or scoffer. As a fool, the “nabal” fool still falls into the category of hope with the rod of correction.
What we need to consider always with the rod of correction is that we often apply it based upon an outward behavior, but its intention biblically is to reach the heart. The beauty of the gospel is that the rod God had for my sin was placed upon my Savior, Jesus Christ and he absorbed its blows for me. That set me free to find wisdom in him rather than in myself. The hope for the fool is Christ and though you can modify a fool’s behavior, only Christ can change their heart.
We move now to the word “fool” in Proverbs which is actually 3 different Hebrew words. There are some slight differences in each term that can be broken down into categories of severity of fool. In other words, the first kind of fool I will write about is not as bad as the others, though is the most common and is still a fool.
This fool in the Hebrew is the word “ksil” which in its root form means fat. The picture of it would be a pig and it implies that this person is acting mentally fat, dull, sluggish, dull, and obstinate. This is not due to lack of mental ability but is a chosen outlook they have taken.
The root of the problem with this fool is a spiritual one where they lack reverence or fear of the Lord and prefer illusions to the truth (1:29, 14:8). They do not have the patience or the mental energy to search for wisdom and pours out freely their opinions that are usually displaying openly their foolishness (15:2, 13:16, 17:24).
A child who takes this form of foolishness brings sorrow to their parents, bitterness, calamity, and they show they despise their parents by their actions. (10:1, 15:20, 17:21, 17:25, 19:13).
In terms of progressive foolishness, if the simple fool does not move to wisdom by instruction and training and rejects the discipline, they move to a ksil fool.
The hope for the ksil fool is the rod of correction which is an instrument that is designed to help in the instruction and training of a child and I will cover more on that topic later. For all us, we are often such a fool and should be able to identify with out children their rebellion in this area. The first rod of correction is the cross of Christ where Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath for our foolishness. By such grace, we need to embrace the wisdom of Christ to move from folly to wise choices.
Tomorrow the “wil” fool and the “nabal” fool.
The word “fool” occurs nearly 100 times in the Book of Proverbs. That is more times than the word “wise.” That might say something to all of us!
The gospel informs me that before I stick my finger out and call someone a fool, I need to do some looking first to myself. This is particularly true in parenting. How often when we are disciplining our child for a foolish thing that we do it in a foolish manner. Also how often we are disciplining them for something that we have not moved into a wisdom model yet in our own lives. Proverbs and the wisdom of the gospel exposes us.
This does not mean that we not discipline our child, but it does mean that I need to learn to approach them touched by grace and with the clear objective of moving toward my child in wisdom.
To help in doing this, I have found it very useful to identify the type of foolishness that is occurring as best as I can. The Book of Proverbs has 5 categories of fool. The simple, 3 categories of what is translated as fool, and the mocker or scoffer.
Today I will address the simple fool and then add each day another category. The simple fool in the Hebrew is a word that in it’s verb form means to deceive or seduce. This fool is described in Proverbs as someone who might be a follower who is easily led. They are gullible to things told to them. At times they act silly due to their simplicity and they are described as naïve and believing just about anything.
The simple fool will show irresponsibility at times and act without thinking. They do respond in a positive way often to visual aids.
The simple fool is the least severe type of fool and really represents all of us daily. This fool acts because they just do not have the wisdom on what to do yet in a situation. There is great hope in rectifying their foolishness and often they just need instruction. In other words, they acted without knowledge or the fear of the Lord. Though like most of us, they do not prefer discipline, there is hope they will receive it.
A few Proverbs that address the simple fool are 1:22-32; 14:15; and 19:25.
Tomorrow I will address the first level of what is translated as “the fool.”
This week I will be addressing the fool of Proverbs. I will be writing about the different categories of foolishness and want to take a moment to explain the importance of that for parenting.
A common question is how do I discipline my child? I have seen over the years different plans of discipline that give straight formulas. As a former schoolteacher, administrator and parent, I found that these do not work well. Instead I discovered the wisdom of God’s Word as a guiding tool.
Dill is not threshed with a threshing sledge, nor is a cartwheel rolled over cumin, but dill is beaten out with a stick, and cumin with a rod. Does one crush grain for bread? No, he does not thresh it forever; when he drives his cartwheel over it with his horses, he does not crush it. This also comes from the Lord of hosts; he is wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom. Isaiah 28:27-29
By understanding levels of foolishness, we can try to approach our child and determine if we have someone who is “dill,” “cumin,” or “grain.” Each one is treated differently and one can be crushed by being too harsh and the other worthless by not being hard enough. Wisdom is needed and I hope to give some light on the process this week.
Proverbs has much to say about the roles of everyone in the family. God has designed these roles so that they would be harmonious and represent the intimacy of the relationship that the Godhead has within and the relationship the Godhead has outside of itself with us.
The next 3 days I will break down the relationships into 3 categories:
The relationship of a husband and wife
The relationship of children to their parents
The relationship of parents to their children
Today: A husband and wife show they are growing in wisdom when they are moving toward each other in Christ.
Proverbs 31:10-31 is often viewed as an overwhelming description of a godly woman and a call for all women to be like this one. However, lets begin again with the author’s intention here. Remember that Proverbs was written for the king’s son. This being so, Proverbs 31 tells the son what kind of woman he needs to find. Verse 10 begins, An excellent wife who can find? Certainly a woman should want to aspire to being an excellent one, but the intention of the Proverb is for the king’s search.
Let’s look at the “excellent wife.” First of all the word translated in the ESV as excellent literally means “strength.” In the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures (Septuagint) the word is translated as “A manly woman.” The same term is used in verse 17, She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.
There are two summary statements we can give to this woman:
- She knows who she is and does not wonder about herself
- She gives of herself to her family, friends, and to her community
Now what is probably the main reason she is this kind of woman. My proposal from this Proverb is first of all from verse 30 that she is praised because she fears the Lord. Second is that she is surrounded by continual praise that begins with a husband who does so.
A husband by definition of the word is to be a cultivator and nurturer as is implied by the agricultural term of husbandry. And how does he cultivate his wife so she is enabled to be such a woman? See verses 28, 29 “… her husband also (rises and blesses her) and he praises her: “Many woman have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” Verse 28 also states that Her children rise up can call her blessed. And where do you think children learn to rise up and bless their mom … it is by you dad!
Men, how is the praising of your wife going? Are your kids not showing respect to their mom? If so, are you looking at your example first? Can’t think of what to praise your wife about? If so, can it be that she would be more enabled to be praised if you would start to praise her?
Tomorrow: Children showing wisdom to their parents
Another rule of interpretation is that Proverbs must be read in the context of all of Scripture and we are not to use a limited view. For example when a Proverb indicates that following a certain path might lead to a form of prosperity, to fully understand that path I need to heed warnings in other part of Scripture to materialism and worldliness.
Proverbs is also part of the genre of Scripture that is written mostly in a poetic format. We need to be careful to consider that the statement is worded in the Hebrew to be more memorable than to express something complete and accurate. Hebrew poetry is usually not written in rhyme but has expressions with rhythm and repetition for easy memorization. An example is Proverbs 6:10 which in English states, “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest” in Hebrew (transliterate form) states, “Me-hat shaw-naw, me-hat ten-o-maw, me-hat khib-book, yawd shaw-kab.” Do you catch the rhythm?