The italics are the main points that stuck out to me each day. If you don’t want to read all the filler, just skim through the paragraphs and read the italics. I don’t mind.
January 1, 2016
Saying 1 Proverbs 22:17-21
“Pay attention and turn your ear to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach, for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart and have all of them ready on you lips. So that your trust may be in the LORD, I teach you today, even you. Have I not written thirty sayings for you, sayings of counsel and knowledge, teaching you to be honest and to speak the truth, so that you bring back truthful reports to those you serve?”
I find this a good passage to start off with. It gives a purpose as to why I should put energy into my study and try to improve myself. There are many people in my life I want to make proud: God, my parents, my grandparents, my siblings, and many others. I know that this journey will make me a better person, which is all that my supporters desire.
This passage also shows God’s effort in giving me guidance to become a better person. The last sentence almost sounds like a “Duh, Abby. Look what I’ve given you. Everything you need to be successful. Just pay attention for goodness sakes”. This isn’t me searching through some random passages hoping to stumble across some meaning. This is God teaching me; He’s given me some notes to look through and He’ll be talking with me as I continue on my journey. This a teacher-student journey.
Finally, this passage also reveals what I hope to gain from this study: “counsel and knowledge, teaching you to be honest and to speak the truth, so that you bring back truthful reports to those you serve”. Honesty and truthfulness are two qualities that aren’t as highly regarded these days. A little white lie or hiding information aren’t federal crimes and are allowed to slide by everyday. I think this study will teach me the significance of always being honest and telling the truth. And who are “those that [I] serve”? My family. My friends. My hall. Really it’s anyone who I have an impact on their life. Truth and honesty were not insignificant to Jesus, and as I try to be more like Him, I need to see the great importance they have on becoming a woman of God.
January 2, 2016
Saying 2 Proverbs 22:22-23
“Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court, for the LORD will take up their case and will exact life for life.”
Tearing people down will not build you up. This is one of the common themes in the Bible, and when I read this, I thought of the golden rule: Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. But instead of them doing it to you, it will be the Defender and Redeemer of the needy who will “exact life for life” and do unto you as you have done unto them. From this I understand why we should fear the LORD, for He is all powerful. For me though, it’s not exactly how I do unto others, it’s more how I think of others. Thinking poorly of others will not make myself thought better of.
I have a problem with thinking in hierarchies; some people are higher than others, and some people are lower than others. And I’m not on the top. No, I tear myself down along with others. Some people I put below me, and I’m sure one day God will turn that around and His glorious purpose for them will shine bright in my eyes. But just as bad as putting down some of God’s creations, I’m also putting down myself, a creation of God. By putting myself lower than others, I’m saying that God didn’t make me as well. He “messed up” somehow. But that’s not true. Just as God made others for a great purpose, He made me for a great purpose too.
January 3, 2016
Saying 3 Proverbs 22:24-25
“Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared.”
It’s interesting that this is the saying for today because I just finished a Star Wars marathon a few hours ago, ending with the third movie. In Star Wars, it’s easy to see how anger, fear, and hate lead to ensnarement in “the dark side” or sin. Throughout the third movie, I wondered why everyone stayed with Anakin despite the obvious signs of anger and hate. Did they think it was a phase that he would get over? Did they think they could calm him? I can’t understand why they didn’t see the danger in him: fighting that danger was what they did. But perhaps we’re all a little blinded when it comes to people close to us. Maybe we think we can fix them. I guess that’s why the Bible warns us away from even becoming friends with hot-tempered people. We’ll try to help them, but end up either having to abandon them, joining them, or having them slowly destroy us. Anger is toxic, and try as we might, we don’t always have the cure.
“Bad company corrupts good character.” -1 Corinthians 15:33
January 4, 2016
Saying 4 Proverbs 22:26-27
“Do not be one who shakes hands in pledge or puts up security for debts; if you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you.”
About this time last year, my church began a sermon series/program titled Boundless, which was a church-wide study of how to handle finances in a way that is respectful to and glorifies God. I learned a lot during the program: how to manage my money, create a budget, and save up and spend for things I want. I thought I was financially prepared for college. But when I got to college, I was caught up in a whirlwind of expenses and spending money. I didn’t realize all the small costs I would come across and how those quickly chipped away at my bank account. I’m still safe from being broke, but I was startled at how quickly I swiped my card or handed over some crumpled bills. If I don’t mindfully watch my spending and know my limits, there’ll come a time when I shake my hand in pledge and not be able to keep my side of the bargain. That will be the end of my freedom, and when I am chained down by my debts, I can’t freely serve God.
January 5, 2016
Saying 5 Proverbs 22:28
“Do not move an ancient boundary stone set up by your ancestors.”
A boundary stone marks the edge of a property, and by moving the stone in or out, you’re either giving away or stealing property. I’ve found that my ancestors (parents, grandparents, great-grandparents) have usually made some pretty good choices in life that have placed me where I am now. Everything’s worked out for them and me, so it would be kind of dumb for me to move our “boundary stones” (aka traditions?). It’s also a respect thing. The boundary stone means that my ancestors owned property. They probably worked for that property and probably had to fight for it at some times. If I gave that away, it would be highly disrespectful and shameful on my whole family. If I stole other property, I would be saying what I was given wasn’t enough. Sometimes it seems necessary to take a bit more than what was given. But if you have to take something in a dishonest way, you probably could have made do without it.
The modern world does pull me away from the truth I’ve grown up with. It tells me I need to give everything I have to make a good life or take every opportunity, even at the cost of others, to get an advance. But my ancestors were happy without doing that, and I just want to be happy. Through their lives they’ve given me examples of lives well lived. I think if I follow in their footsteps and keep the boundary stone where it is, I’ll find myself living a good life.
January 6, 2016
Saying 6 Proverbs 22:29
“Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank.”
I think a good definition of skills is experience plus wisdom. To become skilled at something, you have to do it over and over again and practice until it become second nature. Also, you’ve got to have wisdom to see how you can improve at your craft. I think this saying hints that practice, hard work, and wisdom will gain reward.
Often people become skilled in a talent or passion they have. Looking at my life, I’m not really working on any talent or passion of mine. By writing on this blog I’m honing my writing skills, but what about my passion for dance and creating music? What about my interest in odd things like the Theory of Relativity and kickboxing? Talents and interests were given to us for a reason, and I think I need to use mine more. I need to find something I can work hard on and become skilled in because being mediocre in a few things isn’t a very exciting life. But who knows where I’ll be serving and what I’ll be doing. I still have a few years (I hope) to figure that out.
January 7, 2016
Saying 7 Proverbs 23:1-3
“When you sit to dine with a ruler, note well what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony. Do not crave his delicacies, for that food is deceptive.”
I must admit that even though I saw this saying this morning and had it in my mind all day, I’m laying here with a bad stomach ache from what I’ve eaten today. Eating is something I really enjoy, but I know that I can be satisfied with healthier and more limited dining. Gluttony is defined as “excessive eating”, which is something I’m prone to do. Even if it’s healthy food, I’ll eat three meals for dinner. Yes, it’s a social thing, but snacking every hour when I’m alone in my house is not a social thing. All humans crave, and feeling full from food is an easy way to feel satisfied, though it’s a very temporary satisfaction. It’s a false satisfaction because in a few hours, I’ll feel that craving again. Not necessarily a craving for food, but a craving to be satisfied. That’s why “that food is deceptive”: it’s never truly fulfilling. The satisfaction always fades, and many people will go to great measures to gain that “easy” satisfaction. It becomes an addiction in many cases, and it’s hard to stop. An example of putting a knife to my throat would be when I went vegan and limited my portion sizes. I placed restrictions on a temptation and I felt better because of it. So why is it so hard to completely quit?
January 8, 2016
Saying 8 Proverbs 23:4-5
“Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.”
Money and objects are such a temptation for so many people these days; they hold those things as their most precious possessions, but they are only that: possessions. The Bible says that when we leave earth, we will not take anything with us. When we die, our possessions will be divided and given to others. So instead of holding possessions as precious, we should devote our energy to the things in life that do matter. Serving the LORD and spreading love give lasting satisfaction unlike the gluttony discussed yesterday, and what riches are worth the moment someone comes to Christ or the joyful smile of a child in Haiti? Today, God opened a door for me to work and live in Haiti in the future, and I feel such joy to be alive. No amount of wealth could ever bring me this joy and passion to live and serve the LORD God Almighty. God’s Kingdom is everlasting, and as servants in His Kingdom, we s0w and reap everlasting joy and love and all the fruits of the spirit. As with yesterday, temporary things will fade and lose their satisfaction, but serving the Almighty God is what we are made to do, and there is truly no greater joy.
January 9, 2016
Saying 9 Proverbs 23:6-8
“Do not eat the food of a begrudging host, do not crave his delicacies; for he is the kind of person who is always thinking about the cost. ‘Eat and drink,’ he says to you, but his heart is not with you. You will vomit up the little you have eaten and will have wasted your compliments.”
To ask for help from someone who doesn’t really want to help you is a waste of your time. Any help you do get from them in the end won’t be any help at all, possibly even becoming a hinderance. If you have people that are doing something begrudgingly, you won’t get anywhere fast. To make people do something more willingly, you’ve got to make them uncomfortable so they’ll want to move from point A to point B. If that doesn’t work, ditch the “begrudging host” and get a passionate team who are self-motivated. A team of self-motivated people passionate about a certain goal will achieve much more than a group of self-concerned people focused on what they will gain.
January 10, 2016
Saying 10 Proverbs 23:9
“Do not speak to fools, for they will scorn your prudent words.”
My Bible’s study notes say “Fools despise wisdom and hate knowledge and correction. They heap abuse on one who rebukes them.” I guess the foolish are too foolish to realize their foolishness. And just like the begrudging host from yesterday, it’s best to leave the foolish behind until self-realization makes them listen. Prudent words are only worthwhile if there are receiving ears, so though the foolish may need more help, it is the listeners who will be most helped by prudent words.
January 11, 2016
Saying 11 Proverbs 23:10-11
“Do not move an ancient boundary stone or encroach on the fields of the fatherless, for their Defender is strong; he will take up their case against you.”
Today was my first day back at college, and I was thinking this morning of how I could apply this saying to my day. It’s basically a combination of sayings two and six; stick with the ideals/traditions of your ancestors and don’t take advantage of the poor and needy. I couldn’t really figure out how to apply this saying to my day until I thought of first impressions. Whenever I have a “first day” where I meet new people, I always try to pump myself up so I appear more extroverted and peppy and likable. Also, I usually dress nicer, definitely dressing for the people I’ll meet and possibly never see again. But then I realized that I need to be true to myself; I come from a family of generally quieter, gentler people. It’s not something I can change, and it’s not something I want to change. But from watching extroverted people and seeing how people are drawn to them, I often want to be like them. The second part of the saying I related to the people I meet. Don’t lie to them by not being yourself, and don’t judge them. It’s their first day too.
January 12, 2016
Saying 12 Proverbs 23:12
“Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.”
Well, this saying is easily applied to college! However, apply my heart and ears is easier said than done. One idea most of my professors repeated in each class was “Be here or don’t be here. And if you’re here, be here“. What they meant by that was that if we students decide to be in class, we need to be 100% there, not distracted by electronics or day-dreaming about our next meal. We need to be listening and understanding, not just hearing. And sometimes, my heart isn’t into school. A lot of times I feel like my schooling gets in the way of my education. But if I go about college with the attitude that I’m here primarily to learn, not necessarily do well, then I think my grades will take care of themselves. College is the place for instruction and knowledge, and since I’m here, I need to be 100% here with an open heart and open ears.
January 13, 2016
Saying 13 Proverbs 23:13-14
“Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die. Punish them with the rod and save them from death.”
I definitely agree with this saying, though many parents in present day do not, or at least their actions do not reflect the saying. Too many children are growing up spoiled because of a lack of discipline, which leads to so many problems. Obesity. Bullying. Selfishness. And a decline of “good people”. This is of course a generalization and there are cases on either sides that are different. But discipline and punishment cause learning. Learning not to hit other people. Learning not to talk back to authorities. Learning how to take care of yourself. I think discipline creates a better person, and I am thankful for the discipline my parents gave me as a child.
January 14, 2016
Saying 14 Proverbs 23:15-16
“My son, if your heart is wise, then my heart will be glad indeed; my inmost being will rejoice when your lips speak what is right.”
Analysis in progress…
January 15, 2016
Saying 15 Proverbs 23:17-18
“Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD. There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.”
This hits really close to why I’m focusing on becoming a woman of God this year. When I look at happy couples, I’m envious that they can enjoy a part of life that I’m not ready for right now. Having a relationship is a temptation for me at this point in my life because I’m trying to focus on God. I need to learn to not be envious of others’ relationships. The second part of this saying sounds pretty similar to Jeremiah 29:11. God has a plan for me that hopefully involves a relationship, but it’s just not time for that yet. I’ve got to be patient, and like the saying says, be zealous for the fear of the LORD.
January 16, 2016
Saying 16 Proverbs 23:19-21
“Listen, my son, and be wise, and set your heart on the right path: Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.”
The wine and drunkards lesson is easily applied to college, but I want to make it somewhat of a vague metaphor. I have a couple paths I’m on right now: my college path, my becoming a woman of God path, my physical fitness path, my mental and emotional path. All these individual paths combine to make my one large path of life. And along that path are lots of temptations. There are easier paths that seem so much fun. But if I take those paths, I’ll find myself sitting in the mud with a dark future looking at the shiny and happy “right path” I left behind.
And it’s not enough that I just follow the right path. No, I need to set my heart on the right path. I have to follow it whole-heartedly. Just like with Saying 9, nothing gets done with a begrudging attitude. Devoting one’s heart and life to the right path is wisdom. And looking back at Saying 14, God is pleased when I’m wise. And it’s something pretty special to be able to please the God of the heavens.
January 17, 2016
Saying 17 Proverbs 23:22-25
“Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. Buy the truth and do not sell it – wisdom, instruction and insight as well. The father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him. May your father and mother rejoice; may she who gave you birth be joyful.”
One of the things I most desire in my life is to make my parents proud. I know I already do, but I want to do something one day that will make their hearts swell and they will know that everything they’ve done for me has molded me to be the person I am. I want them to know that everything I do is because of their love and support and faith from before I was born. Knowing that my parents are proud of me is something that keeps my spirits up when I am down and gives me strength when I feel weak. It’s not something everyone has, and I am blessed for my parents to be proud of me. Everything they’re proud of in me has come from them.
January 18, 2016
Saying 18 Proverbs 23:26-28
“My son, give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways, for an adulterous woman is a deep pit, and a wayward wife is a narrow well. Like a bandit she lies in wait and multiplies the unfaithful among men.”
There are two different ways in which I read this saying. The first is as if I’m the “son” or person God’s talking to. He’s asking me to focus on Him, for the temptation of a relationship at the wrong time or with the wrong person is a path to unhappiness and destruction. The second way I read this is more so as myself, a woman. I need to focus on improving myself in order to not be a sinful woman and to be a support in my future relationships.
January 19, 2016
Saying 19 Proverbs 23:29-35
“Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine. Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when i sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the ned it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper. Your eyes will see strange sights, and your mind will imagine confusing things. You will be like one sleeping on the high seas, lying on top of the rigging. ‘They hit me’, you will say, ‘but I’m not hurt! They beat met, but I don’t feel it! When will I wake up so I can find another drink?'”
Easy meaning: don’t get drunk. As each weekend rolls around on college campuses, thousands disregard this advice. But I don’t think this saying only applies to overindulgence in alcohol. There are so many things in this life that we can become addicted to, overindulging at every opportunity. Food is another obvious example. Whenever I binge eat or have a feast, I don’t feel like doing anything afterwards. Overindulgence in food makes me lazy and unproductive, and I tend to take a nap and sleep off the extra nutrients and sugar. So what is overindulgence? Well, food is supposed to nourish out bodies. When we take in so much that or body has to figure out what to do with the extra, and food’s purpose is not longer to nourish, but to act as a temporary over-satisfaction, that’s overindulgence. Overindulgence takes away the pleasure of just being enough. Its effects, like those described above, can be detrimental to one’s life, and every time someone overindulges, they have to overindulge more and more to get that over-satisfied feeling.
January 20, 2016
Saying 20 Proverbs 24:1-2
“Do not envy the wicked, do not desire their company; for their hearts plot violence, and their lips talk about making trouble.”
Analysis in progress…
January 21, 2016
Saying 21 Proverbs 24: 3-4
“By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.”
Analysis in progress…
January 22, 2016
Saying 22 Proverbs 24:5-6
“The wise prevail through great power, and those who have knowledge muster their strength. Surely you need guidance to wage war, and victory is won through many advisers.”
Analysis in progress…
January 23, 2016
Saying 23 Proverbs 24:7
“Wisdom is too high for fools; in the assembly at the gate they must not open their mouths.”
Analysis in progress…
January 24, 2016
Saying 24 Proverbs 24:8-9
“Whoever plots evil will be known as a schemer. The schemes of folly are sin, and people detest a mocker.”
If a good person does bad things often enough, they will become known as a bad person. It’s not just doing bad things either, but also the scheming of bad things; internal evilness will eventually become external evilness. People detest those with dark thoughts because they know the internal will become the external one day. Like other sayings have mentioned, making friends with bad people is not the best idea. So even simple ideas and plots invoking evil are enough to push away those searching for righteousness.
January 25, 2016
Saying 25 Proverbs 24:10-12
“If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your strength! Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, ‘But we knew nothing about this,’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?”
Analysis in progress…
January 26, 2016
Saying 26 Proverbs 24:13-14
“Eat honey, my son, for it is good; honey from the comb is sweet to your taste. Know also that wisdom is like honey for you; if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.”
So often we think that anything pleasing or good (“sweet to your taste”) is bad. In my university’s Intervarsity, we’re spending this whole semester talking about sex (including body perceptions, how sex has been portrayed and perverted, God’s purpose of sex, redemption, and a whole bunch of other related stuff). Many people are brought up taught that sex is bad and told not to do it. But God created sex as a good thing. In another example, some people don’t eat any sugar at all. But God created sugar, and He created us to enjoy a sweet taste, just like the honey. Honey is nourishing and brings healing. But it can become a bad thing if abused (overindulged [Saying 19]). When one of God’s creations is used in the wrong way, it is no longer good or beneficial. Wisdom is a great thing. Like the saying says, it can bring a future hope for you, and that hope will not be cut off. But when someone has wisdom, but doesn’t use it, they are no better off. And when someone has wisdom and distorts it, that’s not so good either. It’s when we use God’s creations for their exact purpose that brings us the best life possible.
January 27, 2016
Saying 27 Proverbs 24:15-16
“Do not lurk like a thief near the house of the righteous, do not plunder their dwelling place; for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.“
When reading this, I thought of jealously amongst Christians. A Christian myth is that we’re all perfect. That’s definitely not true, but sometimes we feel the pressure to live perfect lives. Sometimes when I see a Christian with a “perfect” life or who has a strong relationship with God, I must admit I get a little jealous. Why can’t I have a perfect life with a perfect relationship with God? Well, it’s because those two things don’t exist. When people harbor jealousy against “perfect” people, that jealousy makes them happy when the “perfect” person fails. When they mess up and fall down. I see that jealous satisfaction as a thief lurking near the house of the righteous. Trying to steal their happiness and righteousness, but that’s not how it works. Even when the righteous fall, they’ll get back up. And the jealousy will come back, but instead of making the righteous worse off, jealousy makes me worse off.
January 28, 2016
Saying 28 Proverbs 24:17-18
“Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice, or the Lord will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from them.“
Analysis in progress…
January 29, 2016
Saying 29 Proverbs 24:19-20
“Do not fret because of evildoers or be envious of the wicked, for the evildoer has no future hope, and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out.“
Analysis in progress…
January 30, 2016
Saying 30 Proverbs 24:21-22
“Fear the Lord and the king, my son, and do not join with rebellious officials, for those two will send sudden destruction on them, and who knows what calamities they can bring?“
This is a good ending to this study because it includes the two main ideas of the thirty sayings: focus on God and be careful of who and what you allow to influence you. The LORD is always stronger than anything I’ll ever face, and by trusting and fearing Him, He will lead me down the best path.
January 31, 2016
Through a month of reading, reflecting, and writing on these thirty sayings of the wise, God taught me some important lessons, and I received some good take-aways. Read the full sum-up and reflection of my month here.