Reading through Proverbs, at least the second portion, not like reading a novel, story, biography, history. Does not have continuous train of thought (at least at level of specifics), does have numerous repetitions of the same principle. Sometimes worded the same way, sometimes worded differently. Themes:
contentious woman – Prov. 19:13; 21:9; 21:19; 25:24; 27:15
riches – 17 times; poverty – 14 times
truth – 13 times; falsehood – 10 times
children/parenting – 20+ times
wise/wisdom – 116 times; fool – 78 times
Instruction is given in both positive and negative ways – promises and warnings, blessings and cursings similar to Deut. 27 & 28. Given in Deut. as conditional statements based on God’s Law, here as principles based largely on observation and experience. So we have repetition, warnings, promises. Why? Simple answer, God is good to his children. More detailed answer:
Why the repetition?
God knows how people learn, especially those starting out as children. In spiritual matters, we all start that way.
Isaiah 28:10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little.”
Repetition, laying a foundation one piece at a time, adding bit by bit, helping make connections effective teaching strategy
Repetition with variation accounts for different
Why the warnings?
learning by experience, trial and error, the hard way CAN be effective
can have expensive consequences
doesn’t always teach the right lesson
lesson doesn’t always come soon enough to prevent disaster; we have to survive consequences in order to learn; consequences may be lifelong without being deadly
if warning works, then….
avoid causing displeasure to God and parents
avoid negative fallout from bad choice
cause for praise
directly – Thank you God for keeping me from….
indirectly – when we pass warning along to others – You know what God protected me from?…
Why the promises?
to do right
reward, not a bribe
God didn’t have to do anything in return for obedience more than already done – obey and live
graciously offers promises of blessing in order to strengthen commitment to obedience
sequence is important – obey me and I will bless you, not, I’ll give you this if you will obey; obedience is required, regardless of reward
God is faithful to keep his promises; confidence in that encourages perseverance even when blessing is not immediately obvious
cause for praise
promised blessings are all of grace, not of merit
God didn’t need to do it, our performance doesn’t earn it
blessings granted because of God’s love for his children
What are we missing?
anxiety and fear v.1
afraid of their own shadow; guilty conscience, fear of being found out; also extends to hereafter; side note: no fear until after the Fall (sin)!
rapid turnover in leadership, changing/conflicting priorities and expectations; frequent change rarely good
“One of them said, now I see that the Englishman’s God is a good God; for he hath heard you, and sent you rain, and that without such tempest and thunder as we use to have with our rain; which after our Powawing for it, breaks down the corn; whereas your corn stands whole and good still; surely, your God is a good God.” Magnalia Christi Americana, Vol 1. p. 54
not only to himself but to loved ones, parents; disgrace always spills over to others
burdened/oppressed/tormented by past, tries to run away from it the remainder of life, unsuccessfully btw
poverty v.19, 22
enough poverty to satisfy, plenty of bread/plenty of poverty; not simple hardship, but uncomfortable level, insurmountable without outside help
good people avoid those who are evil; keep their distance, have as little to do with them as possible
In return for what?
confident, unafraid, secure in God’s keeping regardless of external threats; ongoing state, not confined to particular set of circumstances, e.g., adrenaline rush
a good inheritance v.10
blessing in this life AND the next: “to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven” 1 Pet. 1:4
when good triumphs, which it ultimately will (read the last chapter of the Book!) there is great rejoicing or elation; we know we’re on the side of good and right, are elated when God wins
“God needs not confession for his own information. But he demands it for our good. It brings no claim on his mercy. But it is a meetness for the reception of it. Christ has fully satisfied the claims of justice. But the claims must be acknowledged in the humble acceptance of the benefit. The mercy is ready; but the sinner must sue it out [petition for it].” Bridges
“Blessed is the one who fears” – a fear of reverence, caution, diligence; in other words, a holy fear that works for our happiness. Keeps us operating within our “design limits”.
kept safe, delivered from, saved from all the bad stuff that befalls the wicked; God protects those who seek to serve him
abundant provision v.19, 25, 27
plenty of bread, abundant prosperity, will not lack; always striving for more never satisfies, trusting God’s provision: always enough
rich blessing v.20
not just blessing, an abundance of blessings both in this world and the next
God is good to us, at all times, in all ways. Our response: thank him for his goodness, tell of his goodness to others, rest in his goodness no matter what comes our way.