Proverbs 

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Proverbs
Last Updated July 25, 1999


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Chapter 1: 7,8,9

1:7-9: "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck."

This text is extracted from the book of Proverbs. Proverbs is a collection of wise sayings that with the exception of chapter 30 and 31 were written by King Solomon. Chapter 30 is attributed to Agur and chapter 31 is attributed to Lemuel.

Solomon was known throughout the world for his wisdom and learning. Though he was yet a young man, kings and heads of state traveled around the world to hear his wisdom and to be taught, as he lectured them on the great truths of life.

The Proverbs is a collection of some of thousands of wise sayings of King Solomon. Each proverb is unconnected to the other. The truth listed in one verse may not be connected to the truth cited in the next.

Proverbs were generally written for children. They are written in short catchy phrases designed for easy memory. They address many subjects: Fear of God, Trust in God, Riches, Control of the Tongue, Honesty, Laziness, Justice and just plain common sense.

Among the proverbs of Solomon that are most memorable are:

Prov 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Prov 1:8-9 My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.

Prov 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Prov 6:16-19 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

Prov 6:27-29 Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? So he that goeth in to his neighbors wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent.

Prov 14:12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

Prov 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

The point of the Proverbs is moral instruction based upon the truths of God. Many view them as old and outdated, but God's word has withstood the test of time. 

Chapter 17: 22

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17:22: A cheerful heart is a good medicine; But a broken spirit drieth up the bones."

   This text focuses upon the advantages of a cheerful heart on the human spirit.
   Solomon wrote most of the Book of Proverbs with the intent of passing on to the next generation what he had learned about life. The Proverbs are a collection of truths, most as short as one sentence,some as long as an entire chapter, from his life's experience.
    This proverb highlights two truths: those who possess a cheerful heart lighten the impact of their burdens, troubles, difficulties, sicknesses or other maladies.  Cheerfulness is a result of being able to see the bright side and the light side of a situation. The bright side sees that there is hope. The light side sees the humor of the circumstance
     Solomon noted that the person who is unable to demonstrate a cheerful spirit is usually pessimistic, bitter, sad and defeated. Such a spirit of pessimism "drieth" up the bones.  The Hebrew word "gerem" (gheh-rem) translated "bones" in this context means: "strong ..self." The person who cannot see the bright side dries up the essence of his strength and sense of self worth.
     An ability to see the bright side and light side of any situation is "good medicine."
     Job obviously saw the bright side of his deprived situation when, despite his condition, he said, "Yea thou he slay me, yet will I serve him." He espoused a great hope when he considered his losses and said, "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord."
     Paul showed us how to look at the bright side of difficulty by saying in Romans 8:28 "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." In essence, God's going to work out difficult situations to a believer's advantage.
     Jesus saw the humor of his situation often. One day he considered how he left the mansions of glory and came to earth to walk around among mankind without any resources. While he was helping many put their lives together, he had to try to scurry daily to find lodging. One day in obvious frustration, Jesus laughed at the situation and said, "Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of man hath no place to lay his head."
      Solomon learned this truth early and reminded believers that a positive outlook and a sense of humor is ..."good medicine."
Chapter 18: 24

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18:24 A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

This text focuses on the wisdom of Solomon as he addresses the importance of being friendly. There are about nine Hebrew words and phrases which have been translated "friendly or friend." Most of the words have been translated to mean neighbor or friend, associate or lover. In the biblical context the term friend was used by Jesus to describe the nature of the believer. He is perceived by God more as a friend than as a mere humanoid servant, though he is but a frail creature. Thus, in John 15:15 Jesus says, "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you." Before we were called Christians, Jesus called every believer first a friend, then a Christian or a servant. There is a great truth buried in Proverbs 18:24. It addresses both the secular and the spiritual. It gives an accurate description of what is in the material world and what can be expected beyond what this world can offer. Three words appear in this verse and all three have been translated friends, friendly and friend respectively. As short and as simple as this verse is there are three great truths associated its meaning as indicated by the three meanings of the word friend.

REA: The first of the three is "Ray-ah" which refers to associates, companions and compatriots who are referred to in the sense that they are dependent or weaker. Rea has reference to those who are associated with another by virtue of his willingness to share a resource or meet a need whether the need is spiritual or material or to be neighborly in the purest sense. These are drawn to him because he possesses the capacity to fill an emptiness. To the extent that he shares the resource, the greater his attraction. Thus while we see the word "friends" it is most often used as in Psalm 101:5 as a "neighbor" or person who may at one time or another be compelled to call upon him for spiritual or material assistance.

RA'A: The second is "Raw-ah" which refers to the necessity of one to respond to the point that one could possibly injure themselves. "Raw-ah" means literally to be broken, not cracked, but to be broken into pieces that are beyond repair. It defines being friendly as responding to the needs of others to the point that one is willing to risk being broken, defeated or destroyed themselves to achieve the end. "Raw-ah" goes beyond mere courtesy. It is interpreted as "friendly" in this text, but it is the same word that is translated as being "utterly broken down" in Isaiah 24:19. It borders on the dangerous because those who are truly friendly are those who are willing to even risk their lives for another.

AHAB: The third is "aw-hab" which refers to a person who whose response is not material or secular but Godly in nature. The "aw-hab" is the friend that responds with a Godly type of love that is righteous, personal and inspired by God. While it is interpreted "friend" in this passage, it is the same word that is translated "love" in passages such as Psalm 145:20 "The Lord preserveth all them that love him: but all the wicked will he destroy." The person who responds with "ahab" is motivated by a love of God. With that understanding, the verse takes on a clearer meaning: "A man who has resources, whether spiritual or material must be willing to respond to the needs of others to the point of risking all, if he would be called a friend. Yet there is a higher response, that is the man who responds to others out of a love for God and righteousness, that man will stick closer than a brother." Thus, this proverb gives a warning against having large numbers of friends, for the requirements of friendship go beyond, just mere acquaintance, but extend to the very life and substance of he who shows himself friendly.

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Chapter 29:18

29:18 "Where there is no vision, the people perish; but he that keepeth the law, happy is he"

This text first considers that without a vision, the people will become extinct, perish and die. A vision in this context, is the ability to see something that is not actually visible at the moment. A vision, is the presence of a mental projection in the imagination, of things as they could become. A vision is a perception of the immediate or distant future in the minds of those in the present.

Here Solomon projects that without a vision men and women, boys and girls are doomed to perish. Solomon spoke from experience. As a child he had a vision from God in which he was given the opportunity to choose whatever he desired in life...Solomon chose wisdom and it proved to be a wise choice.

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Chapter 31: 10,11, 30

31:10-11 "Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil." Her children arise up, and call herblessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. (v28) Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.(v31)

This text focuses on the attributes of what is described as a "virtuous" woman.

Virtue in this context refers to moral and mental qualities, combined with a spirit of love and industry. The entire chapter is devoted to the advice given to a son searching for the ideal woman. The ideal godly woman is described in four dimensions, her character, capacity to love her husband, care for her children and serve others. With these four ideals in mind the entire 31st chapter of Proverbs describes the virtuous woman in a very detailed analysis that leaves little to the imagination.

CHARACTER: Four character traits are unique to the virtuous woman. Verse 26 notes: strength, honor, wisdom and kindness as the marks of the ideal woman. Strength, in this sense, is not a physical measure. It is a measure of will and fortitude. It is the capacity to continue when it appears impossible or improbable that success will result. Likewise the virtuous woman is one who has a sense of honor and impeccable integrity. It is her quest to do the right thing and to carry and present herself in an honorable fashion. An important part of her character is her ability to act wisely and to make prudent decisions that are in the best interest of her family. Wisdom is not a measure of her intellect or her scholarship, but her ability to weigh available options and act responsibly. Finally her character is marked by her capacity to show kindness to everyone, in words and in deed.

LOYAL TO HER HUSBAND: Her loyalty and Devotion to her husband is another identifying trait of the virtuous woman. Verses 11 and 12 say: "The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life." Despite her other qualities a good woman is measured by her loyalty to her husband, according to the scripture. Her actions toward him are of such a nature that he can "safely trust her," meaning that his trust will not be breached. Moreover, her loyalty to him is not conditional, but is permanent, encompassing the full range of life's experiences: prosperity and hard times, sickness and health, good times and bad times. Her loyalty to her husband is "all the days of her life," until death separates them.

LOYAL TO HER FAMILY: She is also measured by her loyalty to her family. Verses 13-21 describes a very industrious woman who seeks ways to provide the best for her family yet be economical. She considers the meats and foodstuffs needed for her household and secures them. She saves, pinches and economizes in every way possible to make the family's resources go further. When she cannot buy what her family needs she makes it herself, to the best of her ability. Neither weather or seasons will stop her from providing for her household. Verse 21 says "She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet." Her children are never seen without proper clothing or grooming. Her family is well fed and provided for, because of her tireless and energetic labor.

A FRIEND TO THE NEEDY: Not only does she care for her husband and family, but she also works very diligently to help the poor and the needy. Verse 20 says: "She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy." The virtuous woman is concerned about the sick. She visits the hospitals, prepares food for shut-ins, gives to help the less fortunate and gives of herself to help lift the burden of those who are in a position of need. "She reacheth forth her hand" suggests that she does not wait until the needy make an appeal to her, but takes the initiative to reach out and touch someone with compassion.

These four characteristics together describe the attributes of the virtuous woman. Together they present the picture of a woman of dignity, honor, wisdom, strength, compassion and loyalty to her husband and family. A man who finds such a woman has a priceless jewel.

Though verse 28 says her children will rise up in the morning and praise and her husband will praise her, they won't be alone. Those who know her will praise her and those whom she has touched will praise her as well.

Those who rise to praise the virtuous woman will not have to say much. Verse 31 says "her own works praise her" and testify to the accomplishments of her life.

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31:30: Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.

  This text focuses on the attributes of what is described as a "virtuous" woman.
Virtue in this context refers to moral and mental qualities, combined with a spirit of love, industry and fear of the Lord.
   Verses 10-31 are an acrostic. Every verse begins with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
Aleph is for woman full of virtue,Beth refers to the trust her husband shares, Gimmel is for work she does to help you, Daleth stands for how she seeks her wares.
 This continues through all 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. In this manner 22 separate virtuous of a good woman are combined to show a woman who is complete and worthy of praise because she fears the Lord.
   Proverbs describes the virtuous woman in a very detailed analysis that leaves little to the imagination.
   The virtuous woman has four character traits that are unique. All four are listed in verse 26 which notes:  strength, honor, wisdom and kindness as the marks of the ideal woman.
    Her loyalty and  Devotion to her husband is another identifying trait of the virtuous woman. Verses 11 and 12 say: "The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life." Despite her other qualities a good woman is measured by her loyalty to her husband, according to the scripture. Her actions toward him are of such a nature that he can "safely trust her," meaning that his trust will not be breached..
    She is also measured by her loyalty to her family. Verses 13-21 describes a very industrious woman who seeks ways to provide the best for her family yet be economical.  She considers the meats and foodstuffs needed for her household and secures them. She saves, pinches and economizes in every way possible to make the family's resources go further. When she cannot buy what her family needs she makes it herself, to the best of her ability. Neither weather or seasons will stop her from providing for her household. Verse 21 says "She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet."
    Not only does she care for  her husband and family, but she also works very diligently to help the poor and the needy. Verse 20 says: "She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy." The virtuous woman is concerned about the sick. She visits the hospitals, prepares food for shut-ins, gives to help the less fortunate and gives of herself to help lift the burden of those who are in a position of need. "She reacheth forth her hand" suggests that she does not wait until the needy make an appeal to her, but takes the initiative to reach out and touch someone with compassion.
    The character trait that distinguishes her from all other women is the fact that she fears the Lord. This fear and reverence of the Lord permeates her being, family relationships and interactions with others.
    Because she fears, the Lord, verse 30 says..she shall be praised.
 

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