Tag Archive for 'Proverbs'

If You’ve Got It, Don’t Flaunt It

Proverbs 12:23
A prudent man concealeth knowledge – “If a fool hold his peace he may pass for a wise man.” I have known men of some learning, so intent on immediately informing a company how well cultivated their minds were, that they have passed either for insignificant pedants or stupid asses.’
–Adam Clarke, Commentary on the Whole Bible

I thought this was kind of funny to read. Very concise. It’s interesting that someone with true spiritual knowledge can become a braggart, windbag, or someone who doesn’t know when to impart knowledge and when it’s best to keep it to themselves, otherwise looking like a fool. (The word ‘asses’ here is like donkeys.) Just as if a fool would only keep quiet, even though he’s stupid on the inside, doesn’t show it on the outside. It’s an interesting contrast. Many of us could learn from it.

Stop deceiving yourselves. If you think you are wise by this world’s standards, you need to become a fool to be truly wise.
1 Corinthians 3:18 NLT

Scripture of the Day: Trinity Rejoicing

As happens so often when reading Scripture, this stuck out to me. It seems like I hadn’t noticed it before. Right there in Proverbs, Scripture speaks about the wisdom of God (Christ), rejoicing with the Father. I often praise God for His creation and know how much he enjoys it, because so much of it is unseen to us, and yet He created it in all of its intricacy. He rejoices in us too, creating us far more complex than we will ever understand.

I [wisdom] was His delight every day,
always rejoicing before Him.
I was rejoicing in His inhabited world,
delighting in the human race.
Proverbs 8:30-31 HCSB

[brackets are mine]

Isolating Single Verses Even In Proverbs

Even with Proverbs it’s possible to err by isolating one of them.

To avoid overstating truth or teaching half-truths through isolated proverbs, sages call on their disciples to learn all of them (22:18)

–Bruce Waltke, The Book of Proverbs: Chapters 1-15, Introduction, pg. 39

Proverbs 22:18 HCSB
For it is pleasing if you keep them within you and if they are constantly on your lips.

Worms, Wretches and Maturity

Three eclectic items for you. I’m still not doing well, maybe worse. Please pray. I really don’t want to go to the hospital.

Proverbs 30:1-3 NLT
The sayings of Agur son of Jakeh contain this message.
I am weary, O God; I am weary and worn out, O God.
2 I am too stupid to be human, and I lack common sense.
3 I have not mastered human wisdom, nor do I know the Holy One.

Job 25:4-6
How can a mortal be innocent before God?
Can anyone born of a woman be pure?
5 God is more glorious than the moon; he shines brighter than the stars.
6 In comparison, people are maggots; we mortals are mere worms.”

Psalm 22:5-6
They cried out to you and were saved.
They trusted in you and were never disgraced.
6 But I am a worm and not a man.
I am scorned and despised by all!

Clifford observes that these examples of “low anthropology,” of self-abasement, express reverence.

–Bruce Waltke, Proverbs, quoting Clifford, Proverbs, p. 26

This makes sense because even these examples don’t begin to measure the difference in knowledge and wisdom, between God and us. One of my favorite phrases lately, when I’m not at my worst, is “I’m too stupid to be human.”

Isaiah 55:8-9
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

The more we learn this, the more we realize what a wretch we are, as in the hymn Amazing Grace, or how Wretched, as in the radio show.

On another note:

Hope for Your Dark Night of the Soul


Marks of maturity
This ‘walk’ is similar to mine. I’m not sure I’m at the second part yet, or at least some of them. It’s an interesting post in any case.

The Message for Clarity

I have no idea if this clarity is correct but in looking at Proverbs 14:31 ESV

Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker,
but he who is generous to the needy honors him.

I can’t tell if the oppressor’s Maker is being insulted or the poor man’s Maker. Obviously they are the same Maker, but I was curious. So in looking at all the other translations I usually look at, I had no clue.

Proverbs 14:31 NLT
Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker,
but helping the poor honors him.

Proverbs 14:31 TNIV
Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker,
but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

The others being almost identical to one of these.

So finally The Message takes a side.

Proverbs 14:31 MSG
You insult your Maker when you exploit the powerless;
when you’re kind to the poor, you honor God.

Do any of the Hebrew geeks know? Does it matter?

Proverbs: Liquor for the Poor?

I would like to write more about Proverbs. I’m not trying to teach, just relaying what I’ve been learning, mainly from commentators.

Proverbs 31:6-7 NLT
Alcohol is for the dying,
and wine for those in bitter distress.
Let them drink to forget their poverty
and remember their troubles no more.

It seems there is a literal part to this passage in that some mixture of alcohol was given to those who are dying, similar I suppose to very high doses of morphine to those who are in great pain because of cancer or some other grave illness.

But these two verses are a continuation of what Lemuel’s mother is instructing him in Proverbs 31:4-5:

It is not for kings, O Lemuel, to guzzle wine.
Rulers should not crave alcohol.
5 For if they drink, they may forget the law
and not give justice to the oppressed.

Spurgeon explains this well, although not all commentators agree that the king should open his cellars for the poor. Commenting on verses 6-7:

These somewhat singular sentences were spoken by the mother of Lemuel to her son, who was probably Solomon. She had already said to him, “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: lest they drink and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.” But such a king as Solomon was must have had an abundant store of wine of all kinds, so his mother urged him to give it to the sick and the sad and the poor who needed it more then he did. The Jews were in the habit of giving a cup of strong drink, usually with some potent drug in it, to stupefy those who were about to be executed. Perhaps that is the meaning of the words, “Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish.” We know too how persons who have been very weak and ill, on the very borders of the grave, have often been medicinally relieved by wine given to them which they could not possibly purchase for themselves. I believe this is the literal meaning of the text, and that if any man should be wicked enough to draw from it the inference that he would be able to forget his misery and poverty by drinking, he would soon find himself woefully mistaken; for if he had one misery before he would have ten miseries afterwards; and if he was previously poor he would be in still greater poverty afterwards. Those who fly to the bottle for consolation might as soon fly to hell to find a heaven; and instead of helping them to forget their poverty, drunkenness would only sink them still more deeply in the mire.

Bruce Waltke believes this is sarcasm to show that it’s not for kings to desire intoxicants. If anything it would be for the poor dull their senses and “forget their troubles”, which would obviously be no help at all as Spurgeon explains. Waltke says “its anesthetic effects merely deepen the drinker’s inability to face his problems.”

Waltke asserts in his commentary on Proverbs that this is a command to deliver the poor from their miserable material poverty and even goes so far as to say that this sarcastic command shouldn’t be taken literally at all and would be “completely out of harmony with wisdom”, even if using intoxicants for one who is dying (as was offered to Jesus).

Do you think there should be any literal component to this?

Changes of Style Within a Bible Translation

When I have the time and energy, I have some posts coming of my own on the more substantial side.

Here is something from Dave Black Online on Sunday, January 23. This topic of different English styles (or register as I’ve read it) has been floating around. After that I have a question of my own regarding the REB.

8:24 AM Is the style of a New Testament document inspired? If so, do different styles in the Greek New Testament require different styles of translation into English? For example, as I translate through Mark I find certain passages to be anything but lackluster in terms of rhetorical style. Any account of poetic effectiveness or literariness must, I should think, influence the way we translate the Gospel in terms of impact and appeal on the audience. After all, style is information.

In the ISV New Testament an attempt was made to produce in sonorous and poetic English at least certain portions of the New Testament (the Christ hymns or the 5 “faithful sayings,” for example) — that is, passages whose literary quality is unquestioned. (Liars ever/men of Crete/savage brutes/that live to eat.) In doing so, I discovered that producing a literary translation is not simple. It will be interesting to see whether there is a ready and willing receptor constituency that will appreciative such an approach when the ISV is published later this year.

But back to my question: Admitting that there is always some loss in translating from language to another, should Bible translators pay greater attention to the rhetorical techniques in Hebrew and Greek? After all, in poetic language, all of the possibilities of language are exploited to communicate meaning.

I think this is one of the things that makes the REB so impressive.
My question: Is the REB static as far as its literary quality and style or does it change with the original language(s)?

As to Dave Black’s question, from a complete amateur, I would love to see translators pay more attention to rhetorical techniques. But I think in order for it to be worth it, it would have to be pretty noticeable to most readers.

God’s Word translation does a good job as far as form with poetry by using a single column format so that parallel lines can be lined up, for lack of a better term, which helps in visualizing that aspect. I don’t know if that’s something that has anything to do with what the original writer would have done if the language permitted it, but it’s helpful for me. It will be interesting to see how the ISV handles this in the Old Testament. A Microsoft Office version of the ISV can be found on their Downloads page.

I’ve done my best to replicate the form of two of the translations mentioned above except for verse numbers, which would have complicated it with GW. Hopefully the CSS will render the same in all browsers. It looks fine in FF, MSIE and Opera on my system.

Proverbs 2:1-5 ISV
My son, if you accept my words,
and treasure my instructions1—
making your ear attentive to wisdom,
and turning your heart to understanding—
if, indeed, you call out for insight
and raise your voice for understanding,
if you seek it like silver
and search for it like hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and learn to know God.

Proverbs 2:1-5 GW
My son,
if you take my words to heart
and treasure my commands within you,
if you pay close attention to wisdom,
and let your mind reach for understanding,
if indeed you call out for insight,
if you ask aloud for understanding,
if you search for wisdom as if it were money
and hunt for it as if it were hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and you will find the knowledge of God.

“Follow” in Proverbs

I was looking up some stuff in Proverbs using Bibleworks and searched for “follow”, reacquainting myself with how to limit a search to a portion of the Bible and then copying all the verses. I then did a couple of quick Search and Replace in a text editor to add line and paragraph breaks and thought I might as well post it. I didn’t check for any that needed more context and didn’t do any more poetic line breaks.

(BTW this isn’t a word study, it’s just about influence.)

Proverbs 2:20 NLT
Follow the steps of good men instead, and stay on the paths of the righteous.

Proverbs 4:4
My father taught me, “Take my words to heart. Follow my commands, and you will live.

Proverbs 4:14
Don’t do as the wicked do, and don’t follow the path of evildoers.

Proverbs 4:27
Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.

Proverbs 6:3
follow my advice and save yourself, for you have placed yourself at your friend’s mercy. Now swallow your pride; go and beg to have your name erased.

Proverbs 7:1
Follow my advice, my son; always treasure my commands.

Proverbs 7:22
He followed her at once, like an ox going to the slaughter. He was like a stag caught in a trap,

Proverbs 8:32
“And so, my children, listen to me, for all who follow my ways are joyful.

Proverbs 10:9
People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will slip and fall.

Proverbs 14:2
Those who follow the right path fear the LORD; those who take the wrong path despise him.

Proverbs 16:17
The path of the virtuous leads away from evil; whoever follows that path is safe.

Proverbs 20:7
The godly walk with integrity; blessed are their children who follow them.

Proverbs 23:26
O my son, give me your heart. May your eyes take delight in following my ways.

Proverbs 28:5
Evil people don’t understand justice, but those who follow the LORD understand completely.

Scripture of the Day: The Law and Wisdom

Psalm 1:1-3 NLT
Oh, the joys of those who do not
follow the advice of the wicked,
or stand around with sinners,
or join in with mockers.
2 But they delight in the law of the LORD,
meditating on it day and night.
3 They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
and they prosper in all they do.

Proverbs 3:13-16
Joyful is the person who finds wisdom,
the one who gains understanding.
14 For wisdom is more profitable than silver,
and her wages are better than gold.
15 Wisdom is more precious than rubies;
nothing you desire can compare with her.
16 She offers you long life in her right hand,
and riches and honor in her left.
17 She will guide you down delightful paths;
all her ways are satisfying.
18 Wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her;
happy are those who hold her tightly.

More on Proverbs and Others by Charles Bridges

Recently I let people know about a free online commentary on Proverbs by Charles Bridges (not to be confused with Jerry Bridges) in HTML (web page) format. A couple of days ago I found a post on Pyromaniacs titled Proverbs for nothing, and your Bridges for free! I was glad to learn that this commentary is also in PDF format, which makes it easier to look up the chapters.

While reading Waltke’s commentary I’ve been referring to Bridges fairly often and like it enough to buy it in book form. In fact if I were to do it again, I might read the Bridges and refer to the Waltke. On the Pyro site, a commenter mentioned that the Banner of Truth edition is the best. This is a healthy 656 page book which is more expositional or even devotional in nature but still goes verse by verse. Some of the editions look like they are scans of the original book (I can’t say for sure if this is or not). There is an edition in the The Crossway Classic Commentary Series edited by Alister McGrath, and J. I. Packer which I’m sure is ‘regular’ text, but keep in mind this is an abridged (condensed) edition.

Then to my surprise I found out he wrote a commentary on Ecclesiastes (I love that book) and Psalm 119, one of my favorite Psalms. It just keeps getting better. I wish I would have known that when I was studying Ecclesiastes. I already have a book on Psalm 119 that I haven’t read so I won’t be getting that anytime soon but would like to in the future.

Although it looks like he wasn’t a prolific writer, these resources are very helpful and I wanted to let you know about them if you’re interested.

Quote of the Day: God’s Glory in Hiding Things

Proverbs 25:2a GW
It is the glory of God to hide things

We want to figure everything out. We want to know everything. Transparency is a big buzzword regarding business, government and even the military.

Some people think that God is being sneaky by hiding certain things from us or trying to fool us, so we fill in some areas with human logic.

This verse has always been a little bit puzzling. I looked at the old commentary by Bridges, which I mentioned in a previous post, in addition to Waltke on this one. I love this quote and wanted to post it. I’m thinking about getting this commentary in book form. See the end of the quote for a link to a PDF file. I will be writing a post on the various editions soon.

[I]s not this shade of mystery our highest joy, as the dwelling-place of our adorable God and Saviour? Are not the clouds of his concealment the effulgence of his glory (Habakkuk 3:4), as the most simple, yet the most incomprehensible Being, whom the mightiest intellect can never “by searching find out to perfection?” (Job 11:7) ‘As there is’–says Bishop Hall–‘a foolish wisdom, so there is a wise ignorance. I would fain know all that I need, and all that I may. I leave God’s secrets to himself. It is happy for me, that God makes me of his court, though not of his council. O Lord! let me be blessed with the knowledge of what thou hast revealed. Let me content myself to adore thy divine wisdom in what thou hast not revealed.’*

Thus it is the glory of God to conceal a thing–to do many things, of which the full development of their great end is far beyond our sight.The highest glory of earth is at an infinite remove–God conceals. For who could bear his full irradiation?1


1. Exodus 33:20; Daniel 10:5-8, 17; Revelation 1:12-17

* Bp. Hall, viii. 5; xi. 8-1. This glorious concealment is however no precedent for the Tractarian principle of Reserve, which at once eclipses the freeness and fulness of Gospel, and paralyzes the energy of Christian life and hope. Blessed be God! “The that belong to our peace are brought to light by the Gospel.” The doctrine of the atoning cross is “delivered first of all” (en prwtoi; 1 Cor. xv. 3)–the primary truth in the fore-front of the Gospel. With self-abasing humility we acknowledge, that “secret things belong to the Lord our God.” But guilty indeed is the presumption of casting a cloud of concealment on “the things that are revealed, and which belong to us and to our children for ever”–not only as the foundation of our hope, but as the principle of our obedience. Deut. xxix. 20. Yet do not some of us need to be drawn further from the “secret things”and nearer to the things that are revealed?

Recommended Free Commentary on Proverbs

A COMMENTARY ON PROVERBS by Charles Bridges (PDF File)

This commentary, written in 1847 is often mentioned positively by Bruce Waltke in his two volume commentary on Proverbs. I think it would be a good second commentary or good by itself. The chapter numbers are in Roman numerals so you have to brush up on that if your knowledge is weak like mine, but the verse numbers are as ours are (what’s the term?). This can easily be converted to an eBook if you have any kind of a reader or just save the file, which I would recommend in case it disappears.

Quote of the Day: Speech of the Wise

Especially relevant for bloggers.

The wise do not react rashly out of heated passion but speak and act deliberately in full control of their emotions, aiming to restore the erring friendship, not to defend themselves.

Bruce Waltke, Proverbs

Proverbs 17:27-28 HCSB
The intelligent person restrains his words,
and one who keeps a cool head is a man of understanding.
28 Even a fool is considered wise when he keeps silent,
discerning, when he seals his lips.

Job 13:5
If only you would shut up and let that be your wisdom!

Verse of the Day: Proverbs 3:5-6

A popular passage translated by Old Testament scholar Bruce Waltke.

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and on your own understanding do not rely;
in all your ways desire his presence,
and he will make your paths straight and smooth.

I especially like the third line. I’m always trying to think of ways to think of God more and more throughout the day. The way my day is structured now it’s kind of built in, spreading out spiritual disciplines throughout the day. What I really need to do more of is desire his presence regarding the things I’m doing and thinking if that makes sense. Asking God about things, talking with him, wondering what his will is for various things, even joking with him every once in a long while.

I also like to do things like using a watch beep, using a screen saver with a Bible verse on it even though a screen saver isn’t really necessary since you can have the screen just turn off, using coffee mugs with Scripture on them, etc. That may be one good reason for those wall plaques but I just get used to seeing them. Are there other things you do?

Also see:
Praying Three Times a Day

Verse of the Day: Violence

I’ve always hated the glorification of the mafia and using gratuitous violence, as in putting yourself in the place of the violent person, for entertainment.

Proverbs 3:31-32 NLT
Don’t envy violent people or copy their ways.
Such wicked people are detestable to the LORD,
but he offers his friendship to the godly.