John T. Willis

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Proverbs 12:7-12

Proverbs 12:7-12 contain proverbs contrasting the characteristics of and destinies of the righteous and the wicked.

Verse 7--The wicked are overthrown and are no more,
but the house of the righteous will stand.

Verse 8--One is commended for good sense,
but a perverse mind is despised.

Verse 9--Better to be despised and have a servant,
than to be self-important and lack food.

Verse 10--The righteous know the needs of their animals,
but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.

Verse 11--Those who till their land will have plenty of food,
but those who follow worthless pursuits have no sense.

Verse 12--The wicked covet the proceeds of wickedness,
but the root of the righteous bears fruit.

What are some practical lessons we may learn from these wise sayings?
1. God sustains the righteous even in difficult times, but the wicked cannot stand.
2. No matter how one lives, some people will despise that person. This may be deserved if one has a perverse mind or is arrogant, but not if one is humble and has others working with and for that person.
3. Righteousness involves treating animals with respect and dignity, as God's creatures. Newspapers and TV news sometimes relate stories about mistreatment of animals. Those who do such things do not truly appreciate God's gifts.
4. Hard work leads to good produce. But how foolish it is to spend one's time and energies following worthless pursuits.

John Willis

Monday, June 18, 2007

Proverbs 13:15-19

Proverbs 13:15-19 are proverbs on various topics.

Verse 15--Good sense wins favor,
but the way of the faithless is their ruin.

Verse 16--The clever do all things intelligently,
but the fool displays folly.

Verse 17--A bad messenger brings trouble,
but a faithful envoy, healing.

Verse 18--Poverty and disgrace are for the one who ignores instruction,
but one who heeds reproof is honored.

Verse 19--A desire realized is sweet to the soul,
but to turn away from evil is an abomination to fools.

What important practical lessons can one learn from these proverbs?
1. A righteous person uses good judgment in dealing with life's issues. She/He thinks things through and then acts accordingly. But a fool lives to do evil without considering the consequences and thus makes a public spectacle of her/his folly.
2. One can trust faithful persons to report her/his message to others and [spiritual, social, spiritual]healing results. On the other hand, an unfaithful messenger betrays the one sending the message, and trouble results between the originator of the message and its recipient.
3. As in verse 1, verse 18 encourages those who want to live for God to listen to and accept reproof or rebuke, and to change if this is appropriate. But many are so set in their ways that they refuse to change even if this is best for them and for all concerned.
4. Whereas verse 12 said: "Hope deferred makes the heart sick," verse 19 says: A desire realized is sweet to the soul. When one desires what is good and prays and works to achieve it, it is very rewarding to the heart to realize that desire.

John Willis

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Proverbs 13:10-14

Proverbs 13:10-14 are maxims concerning the importance of taking good advice, and being patient in issues of life.

Verse 10--By insolence the heedless make strife,
but wisdom is with those who take advice.

Verse 11--Wealth hastily gotten will dwindle,
but those who gather little by little will increase it.

Verse 12--Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

Verse 13--Those who despise the word bring destruction on themselves,
but those who respect the commandment will be rewarded.

Verse 14--The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life,
so that one may avoid the snares of death.

What are some practical lessons we may learn from these proverbs?
1. The haughty [insolent] think they know it all, that they have nothing to learn from others or from God. But the wise listen to advice, and change their lives by following good advice, thus becoming more and more what God wants them to be (verses 10, 13-14).
2. A common human tendency is to want what we want "right now." But this is not the way life is; this is not the way God works. Often God answers our prayers--but long after we have forgotten we uttered those prayers, and in ways much better than we envisioned. V. 11 alludes to the desire to "get rich quick." People who desire wealth think they should get rich very early in life, then spend the rest of their lives enjoying what they have accumulated. Sometimes it happens that way, but most of us must learn to be patient--and thankful for whatever God gives us. V. 12 alludes to those who anticipate receiving a certain blessing or gift or honor, but not receiving what they expect. When this happens, we feel like we are failures, that life or God is against us. But, again, God's answers often come much later than we wish--and in much better packages.

John Willis