Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 21, The Good And The Bad

We are now beginning a section that is a collection of proverbs spoken by Solomon. Up til now the book of Proverbs has contained somewhat of a narrative, but today it changes into a series of short sentences that each contain one good thing and one bad thing. The right way to live and the wrong way to live are presented in each verse.

"The proverbs of Solomon: A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son brings grief to his mother." (Proverbs 10:1) He says, "If you become a good man, my son, you will make me proud. But if not, you will cause your mother to cry." The opposite would also be true, that a wise son brings joy to his mother and causes grief to his father.

"Ill-gotten treasures have no lasting value, but righteousness delivers from death." (Proverbs 10:2) Dishonest living has the potential to shorten a person's life. Attempted robbery sometimes ends in the robber being killed by his intended victim. But the honest person need not fear such a fate.

"The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry, but He thwarts the craving of the wicked." (Proverbs 10:3) Some translations state that it is the soul of the righteous that the Lord will not allow to go hungry, and there is definitely truth in that. The one who hungers for the Lord will be satisfied. God will reward the one who seeks Him. But the wicked person craves things that are wrong, and even if he obtains them he will not be satisfied. I think, though, there is also truth in the way the NIV renders this verse. The Lord has His eye on those who are His. He gives us each day our daily bread. As Solomon's father David once observed, "I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread." (Psalm 37:25)

"Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth." (Proverbs 10:4) Solomon inherited wealth but his hard work earned him plenty more. It wasn't his nature to be idle. It wasn't in his character to simply enjoy the fruits of his father's labors, for he considered it irresponsible not to make the money grow that had been entrusted to him.

"He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son." (Proverbs 10:5) As Solomon said in his book of Ecclesiastes, there is a time for every purpose. The wise person will perform the right duties at the right time. Crops which are not harvested at the proper time will rot in the fields, causing hunger when winter comes. A spirit of laziness will tell us it's okay to put things off, but this only leads to bigger problems.

"Blessings crown the head of the righteous, but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked." (Proverbs 10:6) Those who honor the Lord inherit blessings, while those who dishonor Him are done in by their own violence.

"The name of the righteous is used in blessings, but the name of the wicked will rot." (Proverbs 10:7) Bible scholar Henry Deane uses this example to explain verse 7, "Whoever thinks of naming a child Judas or Nero?" The name of the wicked becomes untouchable. Would we name a child Hitler, for example? Of course not, and in fact it's against the law in many countries to name a child after Hitler. But humans have a tendency to name children after someone they respect and admire, such as a mighty soldier of the faith. Just think how many people over the past several thousand years have named their sons after Moses or Abraham or David. Think of how many people have named their daughters Mary or Esther or Ruth. These are honorable names because they represent honorable people.

There are many things we might leave behind when we depart from this earth, but most of it is temporary and consumable, unlike our good name. Money will be spent by our heirs, and sometimes unwisely. Houses and lands will eventually end up being sold to someone outside the family. Personal items such as clothing tend to get thrown away or donated. Jewelry might be kept by our immediate heirs, but later generations will feel no sentimental value toward these items and will likely sell them. Our good name, though, endures long after all these other things are gone. I'd rather have it said of me, "She loved the Lord and served Him," than to have it said, "She made a lot of money and owned some nice stuff".

What kind of legacy do we want to leave behind? What will influence our descendants the most? What kind of example are we setting? We ought to live in such a way that the use of our name is like a blessing.

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