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blog meditation Proverbs

Meditation Proverbs 22c

17 Pay attention and turn your ear to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach, 18 for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart and have all of them ready on your lips. 19 So that your trust may be in the LORD, I teach you today, even you. 20 Have I not written thirty sayings for you, sayings of counsel and knowledge, 21 teaching you to be honest and to speak the truth, so that you bring back truthful reports to those you serve? 22 Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court, 23 for the LORD will take up their case and will exact life for life. 24 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, 25 or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared. 26 Do not be one who shakes hands in pledge or puts up security for debts; 27 if you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you. (Prov. 22:17-27 NIV)

17 Pay attention and turn your ear to the sayings of the wise;

apply your heart to what I teach,

18 for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart and have all of them ready on your lips.

This verse is the start of a new section in Proverbs.  There is much debate about who the author is and how similar this section might be to some secular collections of proverbs.  While it is interesting to read the discussions about this it seems to me to make little material difference in how we understand what God has given us in Scripture.  The Teacher repeats his call for us to pay attention to the sayings of the wise.  We have to discipline ourselves to pay attention.  Our attention span is very short and our mind drifts to a panoply of subjects rather than focus on what God is saying in His word.  We need to consciously apply our hearts to read and to struggle with the text until we understand how it applies to our lives.

When we keep the sayings of the wise in our hearts it is pleasing to God, but it also produces pleasing outcomes for the one who listens and heeds what is said.  When we hide these sayings in our hearts they come to mind when needed and we readily have them upon our lips.

19 So that your trust may be in the LORD, I teach you today, even you.

The teaching is personal.  Try and get out of the habit of listening for someone else.  How many times have we thought and said that the message preached would be good for someone else?  By thinking like that we can dismiss the message as not applicable to us because we think we already knew that, or we have already mastered that issue.  The Teacher says that he has taught you today, yes even you.  We can all do with the teaching that will encourage us to trust in the Lord.  Our trust in the Lord ebbs and flows.  At times we have to battle through a lot of doubt and anguish before we find trust.  The word of God is there to help us find trust in the Lord.

20 Have I not written thirty sayings for you, sayings of counsel and knowledge, 21 teaching you to be honest and to speak the truth, so that you bring back truthful reports to those you serve?

V20 is very difficult to translate and in the various English versions you can see how different the translations are.  Some translate the word for ‘thirty sayings’ as ‘excellent things’ and another option is ‘previously taught’.  Whatever way we opt to translate it, the meaning is that the Teacher has taught us sayings of counsel and knowledge.  These sayings teach us to be honest.  It may come as a shock that we need to be taught to be honest.  It comes naturally to us to lie, deceive or misrepresent.  Much confession of sin is required in this area.  As we learn truth and speak truth so we are able to share truth with others.  Our life is consistent with what we say and so we are able to testify of the goodness of God to us.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, (1 Pet. 3:15 NIV)

22 Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court, 23 for the LORD will take up their case and will exact life for life.

Christian living reaches into our everyday transactions with other people.  We should not plunder the poor, just because they are poor and vulnerable.  Just because we are in a position to exploit the poor doesn’t mean that we should.  If you have the wealth to afford a good barrister that does not mean that you should use your wealth to crush the needy in court.  A modern day example would be charging the needy high rent and then taking them to court when they can’t pay.  Having the legal grounds to do something is not the same as having the moral grounds to do it.  The Lord watches over the poor and needy and will deal with those who exploit them and with those who do not provide for them.  The Lord is the defender of the poor and needy.  God Himself will bring the exploiter into His court and the punishment will be just.

24 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered,

25 or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared.

Bad company is bad because of the influence that they exert over others.  People often give in to a hot-tempered person just for the sake of peace.  It is bad because it means that bad behaviour gets rewarded.  The Teacher says that we should not associate with such a person because of the danger of starting to copy his ways.  We all like to get our own way and when we see how successful the angry person is, we may feel that that is the way to do things.  If the person who speaks the loudest gets their way, then we are tempted down that road.  But that path leads to problems and we can become ensnared if we emulate bad behaviour.

26 Do not be one who shakes hands in pledge or puts up security for debts; 27 if you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you.

Offering to become guarantor for another person may cost you the very bed that you sleep on.  Always be cautious about taking that path.

Prayer

Lord as we read Your word, help us to apply that word that we may grow to trust in You.  Help us to embrace the truth of Your word and to grow in knowledge and understanding because we ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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