Tag Archives: Bible study

What I Thought Was a Good Thing Was Not

Proverbs 18:1

“Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh [and] intermeddleth with all wisdom.”

Embarrassing

When talking through the Proverbs on one Wednesday night at church, my own wife, sitting on the front row, asked a question that caused me a little embarrassment. I had just read the above verse from the King James Version and was about to give my thoughts when she asked, “Why does my version read so differently?”

You see, I encourage my congregation to compare translations when doing a verse-by-verse study of Scripture, for, like turning a faceted jewel, a different perspective can bring out color and sparkle never seen before. It’s the same flawless stone, but from a different angle. Granted, not all translations agree on every interpretation, but where one might be off, a group of translations will clarify the proper meaning of the text.

So, my wife’s version read: He who separates himself seeks [his own] desire, He quarrels against all sound wisdom(NASB). At that, another church member volunteered her version’s take: “Unfriendly people care only about themselves; they lash out at common sense” (NLT).

I didn’t have an answer. What’s even worse, my interpretation of Proverbs 18:1 and the application I was going to make was no where even close to the idea the other two versions were conveying. What we had here was a preacher who didn’t follow his own advise and got caught not doing his homework.

My Original Thoughts

My original thoughts on Proverbs 18:1, based simply on a cursory reading of English I thought made perfect sense, went something like this:

“Through desire,” because a man has to have the desire or drive to do something worthwhile, a man who wants to learn sometimes has to get alone, push aside distractions, and “separate himself.” It’s something that takes commitment – you have to want it. But it’s not simply the “getting alone” that makes all the difference; it’s the seeking of wisdom from multiple disciplines that gives one understanding in more than one area of life. Or, you could just say that learning takes hard work, but you can’t be lazy – you have to work for it.

But that wasn’t what this verse is saying.

The Real Meaning

Please understand, the King James Version’s translation of verse 1 is not incorrect; the way we say things and how we use our words have changed, that’s all.

The other translations I mentioned rendered Proverbs 18:1 in a way modern readers, such as myself, could better understand the original text. Where I thought “desire” and “separated himself” meant something noble, the actual meaning of the original text (and the way an Elizabethan reader would have understood the KJV) was something selfish and arrogant.

Where I thought “intermeddleth with all wisdom” was saying the man checked out more than one book in the library, the word “intermeddleth” means to “to expose, lay bare,” or “quarrel with anyone, especially in dice, drinking, or in dividing an inheritance” (Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon).

So, another way you could interpret Proverbs 18:1 might go like this:

“Loners and arrogant know-it-alls think they’re in a class all to themselves and make few friends. They also have contempt for any wisdom that doesn’t come from themselves and are always trying to meddle with or subvert it to gain an advantage.”

Would you have interpreted it differently?


I Know Who to Trust

Proverbs 14:26

In the fear of the LORD [is] strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.

My Refuge

As a child I knew where to run and hide when the sound of thunder came. Actually, to be honest, thunder never really bothered me that much, because I had an early belief that if it was God’s will for me to be hurt in the storm, it would happen. Otherwise, regardless of the booming in the sky, I was going to be OK.

I trusted in God even in my youth, much like David…

For thou [art] my hope, O Lord GOD: [thou art] my trust from my youth. – Psalm 71:5

But when there was the perception of a monster outside, or under my bed, or threatening to harm me after going out with his girlfriend, my “confidence” was in my father, my dad, who wasn’t afraid of anybody.

In all honesty, my “place of refuge” was more often my earthly father, not my heavenly One.

Refuge Shattered

But then, on the 11th of June, 1991, my “place of refuge” from the bad guys, monsters, heartaches, disappointments, etc., came tumbling down. My dad died.

It never crossed my mind…I’m only thinking about it right now as I write this post…but I should have known my dad’s strength was much more limited than I gave it credit.

Job spoke of people who’s confidence, whose hope, would wind up as worthless as those who fell into a spider’s web, hoping its strength would keep them from falling.

Whose hope shall be cut off, and whose trust [the same word translated as confidence in Prov. 14:26] shall be a spider’s web. – Job 8:14

Too often, and it’s this way with most everyone, we put our confidence in things that will never be able to catch us when we fall, support us when we doubt, or protect us when we hide. But…

Blessed [is] the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. – Jeremiah 17:7

Our Strong Confidence

So, what can we count on? Where do we go when we don’t have the answers? Where do we run to hide when thunderous doubt rumbles the foundations of our soul?

The fear of the LORD is our STRONG CONFIDENCE!

Just today I was reading from Proverbs 30. There, in the first few verses, Agur, in a self-deprecating fashion, proclaims that he is not wise, nor does he claim to have any special understanding of the ways of God. However

Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. – Proverbs 30:5

I fear God. Meaning, I know better than to question His wisdom and power and might! He never lies, His promises are sure, and HE will never leave me nor forsake me! My “strong confidence” is in the same hand that can crush nations and fling stars – I fear Him!

But I also trust Him.

Because He said he loves me.

And I believe Him.


Just Read It For Yourself

Instead of reading one of our comments this morning, how about YOU read the proverb for today – or any passage from Proverbs – and tell us what you read? 

Go ahead, do it! 

May God bless the reading of His Word! 

 


Your Christian Duty

It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter. -Proverbs 25:2, KJV

We are wise to remember that Jesus is the Son of God, and therefore He is God.

Jesus spoke in parables so that those who are willing to listen and see can find the truth, but those who are unwilling to listen and see the truth will ignore and even hate truth. (Matthew 13:10-17)

We are co-heirs with Christ, our King. (Romans 8:17) We are called priests – servants of God – but even a royal priesthood. (1 Peter 2)

As Audio Adrenaline put it, “boys become kings, girls will be queens,” so we are tasked with the honor of searching out the truths of God as revealed through Scripture.

Do not neglect your royal priestly duties as a Christian. Study the Word of God for yourself. Rely on those saints on whom we have the labors of faithful study that divulge the deep truths of the Bible. Go to church and be fed by your local shepherd and brothers and sisters in Christ.

Do not merely say a prayer and attend a church. Make your Christianity your own, and seek Christ with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength.

And then love your neighbor by sharing that truth. (Matthew 28:18-20)


Interpreting a Proverb

I am going to do something a little different – I’m going to ask you to do some investigative work.

Please read the following verse from the King James Version of the Bible, then think about what it means.

Don’t look at another translation just yet. Don’t do anything other than read the following verse:

A gift is as a precious stone in the eyes of him that hath it: whithersoever it turneth, it prospereth. – Proverbs 17:8 KJV

What is it talking about?

Is the meaning obvious to you? What first impression do you get when reading it?

Quickly! Leave a comment below as to your first thoughts, then go do your research and leave a second comment.

Don’t cheat! The eyes of the Lord are watching 😉

 


Contrasting the Parallelisms

A New Section

You may notice that starting here in chapter 10, the verses read a little differently. The reason is that here we see the beginning of the second part of this book (Prov. 10:1-22:16) which contains what are called “parallelisms.”

Parallelisms are grammatical and poetical devices which both help make a point and make the point easier to process while including an easier-to-remember element.

Sometimes parallelisms are antithetic (Prov. 10:1-15:33), while others are synthetic (Prov. 16:1-22:16). The first use two lines of prose to make a contrast; the second uses two lines to point out similarities.

A good extra-biblical example of antithetic parallelism can be seen in the words of Sir Winston Churchill (House of Commons, 22 October 1945):

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”

A good example of antithetic parallelism from chapter 10 might be the following verse:

Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins. – Proverbs 10:12

Churchill made a positive point about capitalism, but he did it by contrasting the “vice” of capitalism with the “virtue” of socialism. Solomon highlighted the caring and peaceful value of love by contrasting it with strife: false love can be exposed by the debris it stirs up.

However, neither kinds of parallelisms are meant to be understood as all-encompassing. Some are best understood as being more “rule-of-thumb” than absolute (i.e., Prov. 22:6 says: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it,” yet some children leave and never return).

Unpacking It All

Because there is no real way to connect all of these parallelisms into one coherent message, unlike the previous chapters which addressed particular themes, we could take a long time unpacking each one. Therefore, I would encourage you to go back and check out our past commentary on Proverbial Thought which dealt with each individual verse. You can do that by clicking on the tabs at the top of the page (chapters 9-12 will be uploaded soon).

But for now, since this time we are going through Proverbs in a more condensed fashion, we will only be addressing the verses which most stand out to the particular writer.

I’m looking forward to reading what the Holy Spirit shows the other writers. It should be interesting.

That being said…

Thinking of Proverbs 10:12 (as seen above), isn’t it wonderful when we choose not to bring up past wrongs, but rather let things lie, even cover them with a blanket of grace?

Solomon isn’t talking about sweeping guilt under a rug or denying wrongdoing or sin (such as abuse); he’s talking about forgiveness.

Sometimes the better part of forgiveness is to keep some things packed away and forgotten. Real love seeks healing; false love (hatred, selfishness, pride) demands a never-ending string of “I’m sorry’s” and never lets the dust settle on the past.

Above all, maintain constant love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins. – 1 Peter 4:8 CSB


Scared of the Subject?

Being that this time around we are not focusing so much on doing actual commentary, here are some initial thoughts regarding Proverbs chapter 7.

First, I have to wonder if discussing the content of this chapter is intimidating based on the current mood of society. Are we afraid to approach a chapter that deals mainly with the dangers a predatory woman poses? Are we afraid that we will be accused of victim-shaming in the eyes of the all-seeing “Me Too” movement?

Secondly, is it hard to comprehend a woman being the aggressor? Chapter 7 makes it pretty obvious that the woman in the story is the one seeking out her prey, while the man is the gullible sap that falls for her advances. It would seem to me that if that was the case, then women could theoretically get away with literal murder.

Personally, I give women far more credit than some. To be honest, aside from the normal physical advantage most men have, women possess a much wider array of emotional and psychological weaponry than their counterparts. And, in some ways, they’re stronger.

I find it ironic that in a world where Facebook lists over 50 genders and men and women are reduced to indistinguishable and ever-changing pronouns that women still play the victim card when it’s convenient. Men, on the other hand, are always considered the aggressor. Maybe those facts (or misunderstandings) are the very reasons we should not only teach our men to be men and our women to be women, but warn each of them – including young men – of the dangers that lurk where lust lives.

The fact that is true for all of us is that without godly wisdom someone will take advantage of us, and the end might not be an exciting, new relationship; it might be the grave.