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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Rules to live by...

The Solomonic kingdom of the tenth century B.C. is referred to as a golden age of peace, prosperity, and international prestige for Israel. It is also said that the wisdom of King Solomon surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt.

To live in a time of prosperity and peace under the rule of such a successful and wise king must have been a wonderful thing for the people of God. Those years for them must have been a relief and a blessing. Not exactly the state of the world we live in, is it? But there must be something we can learn from this wise King in his time of peace and prosperity. What it is that he says to us?

Quite a lot actually. As one of the author’s in the book of Proverbs, King Solomon gives the people of God all kinds of useful information. In fact, the goal of this book is to describe and instill “wisdom” that is founded in the, “fear of the Lord” and that works out covenant life in the practical details of everyday situations and relationships.

I don’t know about you, but I could use a teaching like this in my life right now, so let’s dig a little deeper. The teachings of Proverbs is considered to be, “Wisdom Literature.” The covenant given to Moses from God did not specify all of his rules; its purpose was to set out the constitution of theocracy, to give general moral guidance and to provide a system to which God’s people can know his forgiveness. The book of Proverbs takes us deeper and focuses on what restoration should look like in day-to-day behavior and in personal character. The key term, “wisdom”, from the Hebrew word (khokmah) can have the nuance of “skill”, particularly the skill of choosing the right course of action for the desired result. In the covenantal framework of proverbs, it denotes, “skill in the art of Godly living.”

In certain other forms of, “Wisdom Literature” as well as Proverbs, parts of the text speak clearly to the youth and seem to be oriented in preparing diligent and honest men to serve the royal bureaucracy. Wow…our nation could certainly benefit from this kind of teaching, don’t you think?

However, much of Proverbs focus us on everyday life, community, and home. There are very clear teachings on marriage, raising children, discreet speech, diligence in harvest, concern for the poor and represents the democratization of wisdom. The offer of it to all people.

On of its goals is to restore the image of God in man, (think we need this?), and covers an array of other topics such as, diligence and laziness(6:6-11); friendship (3:27-28); marriage(18:22-, 19:14); child rearing(22:6); domestic peace (15:17; 17:1); work (11:1); getting along and good manners (23:1-2;25:16-17; 26:17-19; 27:14). In each of these areas, it offers wisdom for realizing the life of the covenant in the details; it shows that “godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. In (1Timothy 4:8) it demonstrates clearly that:

1. God’s will is intensely practical, applying to every aspect of his people’s lives. A proper relation to God involves, first, trying hard to understand its truth, and then embracing and obeying what one understands.

2. A life lived by God’s will is a happy life. (Proverbs 3:21-26)

3. a life lived by God’s will is useful life.(Proverbs 3:27-28;12:18, 25)

4. A life lived by God’s will does not just happen; one must seek after it, study, pursue it, and discipline oneself.

5. Such a life is available for those who go after it. (Proverbs 9:1-6)

In closing, I can tell you that I want this life. I desire it. And although the world, and my own sin nature, is constantly vying with God for my attention, I know that if I am purposeful and prayerful, and focused on Him, He will meet me in this place and give me the strength I need to persevere. It is a journey. But if Jesus and eternal life is not what we see and the end of it, we better change our destination, and change it now.