Hard work at a sawmill

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
Proverbs 20-22:16
(~950 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Proverbs 20:1): It says that those led astray by drinking cannot be wise, but what about those who drink and don’t go astray.  This is probably not a big question, but I think it’s worth mentioning.  Some say everything in moderation is OK. Others make a huge deal of drinking anything at all.

A. Moderation is key with the consumption of alcohol.  Only drunkenness is forbidden in Scripture, and there is no ban on consumption.  Unfortunately, many people do now know their limits — or ignore them — and abuse alcohol, often to dull unpleasant feelings.

Q. (20:2): These readings refer to “the king” a lot.  They seem to set up this king to be very close to God.

A. If Solomon and his associates put this together as tradition tells us, then yes.

Q. (20:3): Yes, but avoiding it can also cause the honorable to explode!

A. I think the key word in the sentence is “insist.”  There are some people who just feel the need to come to blows, and that makes them very difficult to be around.  Surely, as Kenny Rogers tells us, sometimes you do have to fight when you’re a man, but to insist on fighting is a very bad idea indeed.

O. (20:4, 21:5): I guess we can’t live in our own little bubble and do our work when we wish.

Q. (20:9): I would say almost no one?

A. Pretty wise of you.

Q. (20:12): Why is this said?

A. So we don’t forget that they are gifts and not rights.  Perhaps if we understood that better, we would choose to listen and see better things.

Q. (20:21): Because they do not have the wisdom to know how to use their inheritance?

A. Probably.

O. (20:22): This is a hard thing to do — to let God get your revenge for you.  But, just thinking about releasing those feelings of revenge sounds liberating.

Q. (20:24): I am so inquisitive and I would assume that most people are.  So here again, it’s hard to ignore those qualities and questions.  But, like it says here, it doesn’t matter about the particulars as long as the end goal is reached.  Right?

A. I admit that I am a bit confused by this one as well.  It seems like the way to honor God would be to learn and ask more, but Solomon doesn’t seem to think so at that particular moment.

O. This certainly paints and interesting picture.  God can light us up and see any evil.

Q. (20:30): Is this talking about disciplining children or ourselves?  I am thinking of Da Vinci code where Silas — not sure if that’s right — inflicted on himself.

A. There are certainly those throughout history who felt that the best way to combat sin was to use physical punishment such as flailing as you saw in the movie.  There are also people, I’m think of Passion reenactments in the Philippines, who believe they draw closer to God through suffering as Jesus did, and even allow nails to be driven through their hands.  I would obviously not recommend this, and believe that personal discipline should be done without bloodshed, but not everyone sees it that way.

Q. (21:3): Goodbye sacrifices!  But, I’m sure he still likes personal sacrifices — seeing people give up their belongings or time for His glory.

A. Be careful.  First, it did not say that God was not pleased by the sacrifices, only that He would prefer the acts of mercy and justice.  What we will see in the nation is that they will continue to offer the sacrifices, but the hearts of the people are never truly with God, and it will cost them dearly.

Q. (21:9): Does this situation validate divorce?  This and several verses talk about a confrontational wife.  Why talk about that so much? Does it have anything to do with a previous verse we read about a wife being a treasure?

A. I think both a very true.  There is no application or validation of divorce here, Solomon is simply stating the facts — as he sees them anyway — a good wife is a treasure, but a bad one is torture for a man.

O. (21:13): The circle of life.  A good reason to help whenever we can — reciprocate!

Q. (21:17): I would say this applies to those who love wine and luxury more than anything.  Who can resist a great massage?

A. As with alcohol, moderation is the wisest path.  If you get that massage every day, you will be poor eventually.

Q. (21:23): This one is so hard for me!  It’s so hard not to say stuff sometimes!

A. Since you are feeling so strongly about it, I would believe that you see the wisdom in the words, you simply find it hard to follow.  That’s the rub.

Q. (21:26): I hope it’s OK to want some things, just not let it rule my world!

A. When John Rockefeller was asked, “how much money is enough,” he famously replied, “a little bit more.”  That, my friend, is greed.  If you are never satisfied with what you have, then greed and/or jealously is likely the root of your problem.

O. (21:30): We should be delighted to give God the glory of our victories … (oops) His victories!

Q. (22:3): I gotta stop right here.  How can we remember all of these rules?  We are just human.  Is our guiding light the new law in the NT — love your God and love your neighbor.

A. Once again, these aren’t rules, just wisdom.  You can remember or forget them as you see fit, but Solomon clearly saw enough wisdom in the words to write them down, so perhaps it might be worth our time?  In Jesus’ day, there were students of the Law, who were called lawyers, and priests who studied these words for years, and they could recite for you the ENTIRE OT word for word perfectly.  The human mind has an incredible capacity for learning and remembering things.  It will simply be a matter of what we choose to “feed” it.

Q. (22:4): How hard it is to be 100% humble!  As the rich, young ruler story goes, he was in agreement with his faith until God said to give up all of his belongings and power and follow Jesus.  I think missionaries must be the most humble people, giving up everything to serve the Lord.  We all have our own callings right?  We don’t have to get rid of all of our belongings, right?

A. Worried I might say you need to give up your house?  The reason Jesus required that particular sacrifice of that particular man was that it was his possessions that were preventing him from following Jesus.  He was too attached to being rich and powerful, so Jesus — in love, not as a punishment — suggested that he give up what was keeping him from God: his stuff and status.  I honestly feel that many people would have a better relationship with God if they got rid of most, if not all, of their stuff, but it is, frankly, a terrifying prospect.  But too often, our things become idols — i.e. the stuff we own ends up owning us — and the only way to deal with such idols in our hearts is to give them up.

O. (22:6): The magical verse that should direct all child-rearing!  I have always said that self-help books aren’t the answer to perfect children and perfect parents.  They don’t work for everyone.  And, they drive me crazy because they could boil down the whole book into a few pages or maybe even one paragraph.  A woman in our small group submitted a book to be published.  The publisher was interested —it’s not a self-help book, but I think the publishing requirements would still apply — but wanted her to fluff it up to the tune of double it’s size to make it more marketable.  So, right there you have it.  You don’t need to read it all.  My philosophy is — because I don’t have time to read all of that repetition, noted much of the info is good — to just love your children and most everything should fall into place like raising them to be a Christian, teaching them right from wrong, using a loving tone of voice most of the time, and telling them they are a blessing every day.

Q. (22:15): Rob, can you discuss this one?

A. It sounds like more advice to give corporal punishment to me.  I honestly don’t think there is more to say — either you see the wisdom in the verse — and I’m not saying I do — or you do not.

For further study: Why does the Bible say that it’s hard for the rich to get into heaven? https://www.wealthbuilders.org/biblical-view-of-wealth/

Shop: Christian shirts get noticed.  Check out these conversation starters: https://livinlight.org/shop/

Tomorrow’s reading: Proverbs 22:17-24:34