But let's chat a little about a beautiful aspect of God's Word- and that is endless treasure hunting. I challenge everyone to seriously dig into God's Word- go deep- and you will get hooked in its immensity, breadth, and depth.
The internet has made serious Bible scholarship only a click away. I can go to a greek text online and click on the individual words to get verb tenses and root definitions- I have great access to Bible commentaries. Sure, there is a lot of garbage on the internet- but there is also legitimate and serious Bible research and discussion.
I usually start at Monergism.com, it is the #1 site for reliable content than any other on the web.
I have the link on the right side of my blog.
I also like to listen to seminary courses online. I have taken apologetics, history, and exegetical courses from Reformed Theological and Covenant Seminary... free of charge. I could go on and on. I just download stuff on my ipod or iphone and listen while I run or cut grass or cross train on the elliptical.
The more you study the Word- the more you start to see the supernatural connections and the overall narrative- and you can never exhaust the deep application to the heart. I admit it- I'm hooked. The problem is, the more I know the Word, I realize that I am not getting less sinful- I'm becoming more as the Bible peels away my agendas, and ego, and selfishness- so after every Bible study, I pretty much have to run to the gospel- I quote Romans 8:1 about 5 times a day.
A few thoughts on Proverbs 21
Verse 1- It seems like verse 1 of each chapter is a good one! "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord"....I have never had power and very little say so. I am a 'little man'- barely even in control of my house. So whenever I need anything, I am relying on a higher authority to help me. This verse says, "Don't worry- your dad is in control, and he cares for you." This is why we pray. Now, be very clear- God is NOT an expedient- and He resists us if we try to manage life through Him. That is why we sometimes hear NO or He goes slow. He does not want us pushing buttons- He wants us to yield to Him.
Verse 3- "To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice". Here is where the "Six Degree Game" comes in. We say, hmmmmm where else is this type of language used?
22 But Samuel replied:
“Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the LORD?
To obey is better than sacrifice
Psalm 51: 16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. 17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
John 14 (Jesus speaking) vs 15 If you love me, keep my commands.
See how it works? Better than finding Kevin Bacon. This is one of many reasons why I accept the Scriptures as God's Word. Critics try to say the Bible is full of inconsistencies- I find the message surprisingly unified. Next time someone says, "The Bible just contradicts itself all the time" you politely ask them to show it to you. It is (most of the time) a smoke screen.
Let's do this a different way with verse 14- "A gift given in secret soothes anger, and a bribe concealed in the cloak pacifies great wrath." Does the Bible condone bribery? When these 'red flag' thoughts jump on you, I encourage you to do the 'Six Degree' game and see what other passages are similar. This one makes me immediately think of one of Jesus' most intriguing parables- The Parable of the Unjust Steward:
1 Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. 2 So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’ 3 “The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg— 4 I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’ 5 “So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 “‘Nine hundred gallons of olive oil,’ he replied. “The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred and fifty.’ 7 “Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’ “‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he replied. “He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’ 8 “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. 9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
Now, to be fair- there a few verses after this that help the context here- especially the audience sneering at Him- but this is very similar.
The point is twofold-
- WHAT THE BIBLE RECORDS DOES NOT MEAN THAT THE ACTION/PRINCIPLE IS WHAT THE BIBLE APPROVES.
- WE CAN ONLY BE EFFECTIVE IF WE ARE SHREWD ENOUGH TO UNDERSTAND HOW THE WORLD WORKS- IVORY TOWER THEOLOGY IS ONLY AS GOOD AS ITS ABILITY TO TAKE TRACTION IN THE MARKETPLACE OF LIFE.
The proverb and the parable is not teaching us to bride and fabricate- but it is commending street wisdom and pragmatism. I think the biggest unintended consequence of education is that everything become theoretical- I am posting a you tube clip that pokes a little fun at this:
Back to School Economics Class
Finally, the verse that jumped out at me like I had never seen before:
Verse 4: "Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin."
What is our lamp? What shines forth?
Matt 6: 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy,your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!"
Psalm 119: 105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
WOW- Two different lamps for two different people:
The Wicked's Lamp: Proud Eyes and Heart- internal source- no real guidance
The Righteous' Lamp: God's WORD- external source- light for the path
The Big Application- Proverbs is about finding wisdom. The beginning of wisdom is the reverent yielding (fear) of the Lord- this leads to us being molded by His WORD- our hearts are soft and ready to conform to His desires.
The proud reject God- they cannot go outside of their world- they are squeezed into fleshly molds and hardened- never really acquiring the treasure that produces life eternal.
Which lamp do I want? It starts by eating the WORD. Chew on it, meditate on it, and find the path of life......