Tag Archive for 'Proverbs'

Proverbs: Rebuke People; Don’t Rebuke People

I’m reading through Proverbs repeatedly and reading The Message this time.

Proverbs tells us to rebuke someone. Proverbs tells us not to rebuke someone. Ultimately we need to use discernment in deciding when to talk and when to be quiet. And reading Proverbs a lot helps. I like this wording.

Proverbs 9:8-9 The Message
So don’t waste your time on a scoffer;
all you’ll get for your pains is abuse.
But if you correct those who care about life,
that’s different–they’ll love you for it!
9 Save your breath for the wise–they’ll be wiser for it;
tell good people what you know–they’ll profit from it.

Reading Proverbs in The Message (!)

I’ve been reading through Proverbs repeatedly (aren’t I great) as we study it in our small group and while reading through Waltke’s commentary. I read it in the NLT, my secondary translation first, which is easier to understand but misses many Hebrew-isms, which is fine because then I read through it about four times in the HCSB, my primary translation.

I wanted to try other translations so I chose the REB next, an excellent literary translation which I’m almost finished with. Other than either some big words or words they use over dere in da UK that we don’t in the U.S., it has been a great read and I like the REB a lot.

I was re-reading Rick Mansfield’s blog post on his favorite translations and read this about The Message:

While I would never recommend it as a primary Bible, the Message is easily the best pure paraphrase of the entire Bible ever produced. Those who detest it don’t “get” it, in my estimation. Eugene Peterson essentially redefined the word paraphrase, which had previously been applied to works reworded from existing translations, since Peterson created his paraphrase directly from the Hebrew and Greek texts.

Some parts of the Message are admittedly troublesome and some parts are genius. I particularly like the Old Testament wisdom literature (especially Proverbs) in the Message.

I used to think the Message was abominable. But some of my blogging friends who are very knowledgeable about the original languages and translations said I should give it a chance, just as another one to use for comparison. Much of it makes me laugh (on the inside), which isn’t good, but some of it surprises me. See Psalm 119:92 with a surprise ending.

So at the risk of turning off some of you to this blog, I will be reading through Proverbs this time around in The Message translation. I know some of you think it’s from the devil, but Eugene Peterson is definitely one who is very serious about Scripture and has written a number of highly regarded books on the subject.

If anyone has done this or would like to do this with me, let me know.

Any silly comments will probably be deleted unless we want to have fun ridiculing them.

Verse of the Day: Proverbs 11:27

Proverbs 11:27 HCSB
The one who searches for what is good finds favor,
but if someone looks for trouble, it will come to him.

This really stuck out as I read through Proverbs numerous times while studying it. This could almost be misconstrued for the power of positive thinking. Just imagine how many ways this could be applied.

I think the next few times through I’ll try some different translations like REB and GNT.

Proverbs: The Value of Wisdom

Proverbs 2:1-6
My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
2 listening closely to wisdom
and directing your heart to understanding;
3 furthermore, if you call out to insight
and lift your voice to understanding,
4 if you seek it like silver
and search for it like hidden treasure,
5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and discover the knowledge of God.
6 For the Lord gives wisdom;
from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

As mentioned in a previous post, we are to pray earnestly for wisdom. We are also to value it more than any material thing. I think “value” is very important. It’s not just choosing it because we are committed to Christ and that’s what we’re supposed to choose or want, but it’s genuinely and wholeheartedly valuing it, wanting it more than anything else. If you went to a store and there was a certificate for wisdom and a check made out to you for a million dollars (or your currency of choice), with no strings attached, you’d easily want wisdom if you had to choose, as Solomon did. A million dollars would be great too, but wisdom would be valued even more and brings us eternally and infinitely greater returns. It improves our life indescribably more than material wealth. (Proverbs 3:13-18) Not many of us would naturally want some wisdom more than a million dollars. We need to pray for it zealously.

I can’t tell you how much different it is to study Proverbs when you really want wisdom than when you’re just studying a book of the Bible and learning some things about how to live better. It’s almost painful, but in a positive, yearning way. It also makes someone realize how little they know. It may take years or even decades of praying depending on God’s timing. If you don’t have it yet, it is God’s will so you know He will answer yes.

Proverbs 9:10 HCSB
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Psalm 19:9-10
The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever;
the ordinances of the LORD are reliable
and altogether righteous.
10 They are more desirable than gold–
than an abundance of pure gold;
and sweeter than honey–
than honey dripping from the comb.

1 John 5:14
Now this is the confidence we have before Him: whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

Also see:

Proverbs: Reading and Understanding Proverbs

Proverbs 1:5-6 HCSB
a wise man will listen and increase his learning,
and a discerning man will obtain guidance–
for understanding a proverb or a parable,
the words of the wise, and their riddles.

A few more things I’ve learned about Proverbs.

  1. Like all of the Bible, one can never stop learning. Proverbs were written for youths but also for those who are already wise. (I wonder how many youth pastors teach Proverbs?)
  2. All of Proverbs needs to be read to have a good understanding even of those that seem to “stand alone”.
  3. Learning the book of Proverbs can help us understand other parts of the Bible that are ‘non-literal’ like the parables of Jesus etc. This is very intriguing.

Regarding #2, I think the best example in Proverbs happen to be two that are right next to each other.

Proverbs 26:4-5
Don’t answer a fool according to his foolishness,
or you’ll be like him yourself.
5 Answer a fool according to his foolishness,
or he’ll become wise in his own eyes.

Many others are spread out. Of course reading the discourse sections many times over is valuable too. Now I understand why Professor Horner’s Bible Reading Plan goes through Proverbs 12 times a year and why many people read one chapter a day all the time. I think if people want to pull one verse out and put it on a plaque and live by it they should understand it within the context of the whole book. I used to think that most proverbs can stand by themselves but now I know better, not to mention realizing they’re proverbs and not hard and fast promises. Myself and others have been very disappointed because of not realizing this.

My favorite New Testament example of Scripture interpreting or qualifying other Scripture is:

Matthew 21:22 HCSB
And if you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.

1 John 5:14
Now this is the confidence we have before Him: whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. (emphasis added)

And include

Psalm 37:4
Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you your heart’s desires.

for good measure.

For now as I study Proverbs for our small group I plan on going straight through the study guide and I read Waltke’s commentary after I’m done answering the questions for each chapter of the study and doing any other stuff. I’ll read two chapters of Proverbs a day throughout.

As an aside, God is really working in me. Since back surgery, life has been even more difficult than normal. My faith has been tested for the first time in a long time, depression, anxiety, sleep, pain and accepting what my life has become has been much more difficult.

However, God has given me such enthusiasm for studying Proverbs, I want to learn everything I can. God has given me the attitude of what’s described in Proverbs 2 (below). This is obviously God’s doing. And God has been working in my wife so that she has become more supportive as time goes on and loves me for reasons I can’t understand.

I hate my life but love God and my wife. I hope things can get better someday but these circumstances drive me to take refuge in God. I don’t like it but I need to accept it. If you’d like to pray for me, even once, that’s what I need most right now.

Proverbs 2:1-5
My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
2 listening closely to wisdom
and directing your heart to understanding;
3 furthermore, if you call out to insight
and lift your voice to understanding,
4 if you seek it like silver
and search for it like hidden treasure,
5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and discover the knowledge of God.

Also see:

Proverbs: Creation in Proverbs

According to Bruce Waltke in his commentary on Proverbs, there are ten creation motifs. I thought I’d use a feature in the WordPress RefTagger plugin where the name of the book can be listed only at the beginning (as it is in the commentary) and it will still show all the rest of the verses in a popup window. If you’d like to see a longer passage you can click More at the bottom left of the box.
Proverbs 3:19-20; 8:22-31; 14:31; 16:11; 17:5; 20:12; 22:2; 29:13; 30:2-4

Proverbs Commentary

I plan on buying Bruce Waltke’s two volume commentary on Proverbs. Would anyone want to dissuade me from buying this and getting something else? I want something that’s very complete and won’t leave me wanting. I can’t afford any others in addition to this.

Unpopular Verse of the Day: Proverbs 16:4

Proverbs 16:4
The LORD has made everything for his own purposes,
even the wicked for a day of disaster.

Passage of the Day: Creation in Proverbs

Proverbs 8:27-31
I [wisdom] was there when He established the heavens,
when He laid out the horizon on the surface of the ocean,
28 when He placed the skies above,
when the fountains of the ocean gushed forth,
29 when He set a limit for the sea
so that the waters would not violate His command,
when He laid out the foundations of the earth.
30 I was a skilled craftsman always rejoicing before Him.
31 I was rejoicing in His inhabited world,
delighting in the human race.

Here is a blog I found by Eric Carpenter recommended by David Black Online. I like his style. Here are some posts on evolution.

Proverbs 27:17

Proverbs 27:17 NRSV
Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens the wits of another.

Here is a post I previously wrote on Proverbs 27:17. I will say that when I said, “This doesn’t sit well with me” is a very invalid way to judge an interpretation of Scripture. But I think my conscience was telling me something so I looked into it and posted on what I found with the tools I have.

Here is a much better post dealing with it from the original language and various interpretations from other scholars at Ancient Hebrew Poetry. If some parts are too heady, skim them and you can still get a good idea of various interpretations.

Proverbs 26:4-5

Proverbs 26:4-5
4 Don’t answer the foolish arguments of fools,
or you will become as foolish as they are.
5 Be sure to answer the foolish arguments of fools,
or they will become wise in their own estimation.

Do these contradict each other?

Here is an entry from Adam Clarke’s commentary:

On this and the following verse Bishop Warburton, who has written well on many things, and very indifferently on the doctrine of grace, has written with force and perspicuity: “Had this advice been given simply, and without circumstance, to answer the fool, and not to answer him, one who had reverence for the text would satisfy himself in supposing that the different directions referred to the doing a thing in and out of season;

1. The reasons given why a fool should not be answered according to his folly, is, “lest he (the answerer) should be like unto him.”
2. The reason given why the fool should be answered according to his folly, is, “lest he (the fool) should be wise in his own conceit.”

1. “The cause assigned for forbidding to answer, therefore, plainly insinuates that the defender of religion should not imitate the insulter of it in his modes of disputation, which may be comprised in sophistry, buffoonery, and scurrility.
2. “The cause assigned for directing to answer, as plainly intimates that the sage should address himself to confute the fool upon his own false principles, by showing that they lead to conclusions very wide from, very opposite to, those impieties he would deduce from them. If any thing can allay the fool’s vanity, and prevent his being wise in his own conceit, it must be the dishonor of having his own principles turned against himself, and shown to be destructive of his own conclusions.” – Treatise on Grace. Preface.


search for it as for silver

Psalm 12:6 TNIV
And the words of the Lord are flawless,
like silver purified in a crucible,
like gold refined seven times.

Psalm 66:10 TNIV
For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver.

Proverbs 2:1-5 TNIV
My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
2 turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding–
3 indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
4 and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.

Silver, in the form of electrum (a gold-silver alloy), was coined to produce money in around 700 BCE by the Lydians. Later, silver was refined and coined in its pure form. Many nations used silver as the basic unit of monetary value (see Silver standard). The words for ‘silver’ and ‘money’ are the same in at least 14 languages.



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Bible: TNIV Thinline
Flower: Impatiens

Sharpening and Adversity In Relationships

I had this verse memorized in NIV for a very long time.

As iron sharpens iron,
so one man sharpens another.
Proverbs 27:17 NIV

The guy who helped me become a Christian emphasized that it’s the friction between people that sharpens each other. That never sat well with me.

Then recently I came across Proverbs 17:17:

A friend loves at all times,
and a brother is born for adversity.
Proverbs 17:17 NIV

So having the friction idea in mind I naturally think this means that there will inevitably be adversity between brothers that will help them grow. Again this bothers me. So I looked into it.

NRSV says:
A friend loves at all times,
and kinsfolk are born to share adversity.
Proverbs 17:17 NRSV

and TNIV:
A friend loves at all times,
and a brother is born for a time of adversity.
Proverbs 17:17 TNIV

These express what most commentators would say the Scripture means. Matthew Henry says, “A brother is born to succour a brother or sister in distress, to whom he is joined so closely by nature that he may the more sensibly feel from their burdens, and be the more strongly inclined and engaged, as it were by instinct, to help them.” John Gill says, “and a brother is born for adversity; for a time of adversity, as Jarchi: he is born into the world for this purpose; to sympathize with his brother in distress, to relieve him, comfort and support him;” Adam Clarke says, “A friend loveth at all times – Equally in adversity as in prosperity. And a brother, according to the ties and interests of consanguinity, is born to support and comfort a brother in distress.”

Back to Proverbs 27:17, NRSV says:
Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens the wits of another.
Proverbs 27:17 NRSV

The emphasis should be on the sharpening not on the friction. Henry says, “Wise and profitable discourse sharpens men’s wits;”

This isn’t to say that there won’t be friction or adversity between brothers and sisters (in the Lord) and that God wouldn’t use it for our good, but that’s most likely not the primary intent of these verses.