Friday, June 12, 2009

Wisdom


Wisdom is presented as one of the most important pursuits in life. Wisdom is personalized, and we are invited to talk to her, walk with her, follow her and love her.

1 -5 Dear friend, do what I tell you; treasure my careful instructions. Do what I say and you'll live well. My teaching is as precious as your eyesight—guard it! Write it out on the back of your hands; etch it on the chambers of your heart. Talk to Wisdom as to a sister. Treat Insight as your companion.

12 -21 "I am Lady Wisdom, and I live next to Sanity; Knowledge and Discretion live just down the street. The Fear-of-God means hating Evil, whose ways I hate with a passion— pride and arrogance and crooked talk. Good counsel and common sense are my characteristics; I am both Insight and the Virtue to live it out. With my help, leaders rule, and lawmakers legislate fairly; With my help, governors govern, along with all in legitimate authority. I love those who love me; those who look for me find me. Wealth and Glory accompany me— also substantial Honor and a Good Name. My benefits are worth more than a big salary, even a very big salary; the returns on me exceed any imaginable bonus. You can find me on Righteous Road—that's where I walk— at the intersection of Justice Avenue, Handing out life to those who love me, filling their arms with life—armloads of life!

Wisdom and God knowledge presented as more important than money, a career or the trappings of wealth.

You'll recognize this as true—you with open minds; truth-ready minds will see it at once. Prefer my life-disciplines over chasing after money, and God-knowledge over a lucrative career. For Wisdom is better than all the trappings of wealth; nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her.

32 -36 "So, my dear friends, listen carefully; those who embrace these my ways are most blessed. Mark a life of discipline and live wisely; don't squander your precious life. Blessed the man, blessed the woman, who listens to me, awake and ready for me each morning, alert and responsive as I start my day's work. When you find me, you find life, real life, to say nothing of God's good pleasure.

We are invited to a banquet at the house of Wisdom.

Proverbs 9
Lady Wisdom Gives a Dinner Party
1 -6 Lady Wisdom has built and furnished her home; it's supported by seven hewn timbers. The banquet meal is ready to be served: lamb roasted, wine poured out, table set with silver and flowers. Having dismissed her serving maids, Lady Wisdom goes to town, stands in a prominent place, and invites everyone within sound of her voice: "Are you confused about life, don't know what's going on? Come with me, oh come, have dinner with me! I've prepared a wonderful spread—fresh-baked bread, roast lamb, carefully selected wines. Leave your impoverished confusion and live! Walk up the street to a life with meaning."

Dear friend, take my advice


Proverbs 4, 5 and 6
What is the path to a great life?

Education? Fame? Money? Good looks? An outstanding skill, like catching or throwing a ball? A great job? Position? Power?

1 -2 Listen, friends, to some fatherly advice; sit up and take notice so you'll know how to live. I'm giving you good counsel; don't let it go in one ear and out the other. 3 -9 When I was a boy at my father's knee, the pride and joy of my mother, He would sit me down and drill me: "Take this to heart. Do what I tell you—live! Sell everything and buy Wisdom! Forage for Understanding! Don't forget one word! Don't deviate an inch! Never walk away from Wisdom—she guards your life; love her—she keeps her eye on you. Above all and before all, do this: Get Wisdom! Write this at the top of your list: Get Understanding! Throw your arms around her—believe me, you won't regret it; never let her go—she'll make your life glorious. She'll garland your life with grace, she'll festoon your days with beauty."

Wisdom.
Understanding.

20 -22 Dear friend, listen well to my words; tune your ears to my voice. Keep my message in plain view at all times. Concentrate! Learn it by heart! Those who discover these words live, really live; body and soul, they're bursting with health. 23 -27 Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that's where life starts. Don't talk out of both sides of your mouth; avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip. Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions. Watch your step, and the road will stretch out smooth before you. Look neither right nor left; leave evil in the dust."

Gaurd your heart. Be true. Watch your step. Avoid evil.

1 -2 Dear friend, pay close attention to this, my wisdom; listen very closely to the way I see it. Then you'll acquire a taste for good sense; what I tell you will keep you out of trouble. 3 -6 The lips of a seductive woman are oh so sweet, her soft words are oh so smooth. But it won't be long before she's gravel in your mouth, a pain in your gut, a wound in your heart. She's dancing down the primrose path to Death; she's headed straight for Hell and taking you with her. She hasn't a clue about Real Life, about who she is or where she's going. 7 -14 So, my friend, listen closely; don't treat my words casually. Keep your distance from such a woman; absolutely stay out of her neighborhood. You don't want to squander your wonderful life, to waste your precious life among the hardhearted. Why should you allow strangers to take advantage of you? Why be exploited by those who care nothing for you? You don't want to end your life full of regrets, nothing but sin and bones, Saying, "Oh, why didn't I do what they told me? Why did I reject a disciplined life? Why didn't I listen to my mentors, or take my teachers seriously? My life is ruined! I haven't one blessed thing to show for my life!"

Avoid adultery. It seems sweet. It ends up bitter.

A Lesson from the Ant
6 -11 You lazy fool, look at an ant. Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two. Nobody has to tell it what to do. All summer it stores up food; at harvest it stockpiles provisions. So how long are you going to laze around doing nothing? How long before you get out of bed? A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there, sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes next? Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life, poverty your permanent houseguest!

Be diligent in your work.

20 -23 Good friend, follow your father's good advice; don't wander off from your mother's teachings. Wrap yourself in them from head to foot; wear them like a scarf around your neck. Wherever you walk, they'll guide you; whenever you rest, they'll guard you; when you wake up, they'll tell you what's next. For sound advice is a beacon, good teaching is a light, moral discipline is a life path.

Follow good advice.

Such practical, down to earth, helpful teachings...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Long Life Lived Full and Well


Today we begin to bathe in the wisdom of Solomon.


A long life, lived full and well.


What a beautiful ideal. Many have lived it in the past. It is your choice, and mine, whether we, too will live a long life lived full and well.


Listen to Solomon. With God whispering into his ear...


Proverbs 3
Don't Assume You Know It All


1 -2 "Good friend, don't forget all I've taught you; take to heart my commands. They'll help you live a long, long time,

a long life lived full and well.

3 -4 Don't lose your grip on Love and Loyalty.

Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart. Earn a reputation for living well in God's eyes and the eyes of the people.

5 -12 Trust God from the bottom of your heart;

don't try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;

he's the one who will keep you on track. Don't assume that you know it all.

Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health,

your very bones will vibrate with life! Honor God with everything you own;

give him the first and the best. Your barns will burst,

your wine vats will brim over. But don't, dear friend, resent God's discipline;

don't sulk under his loving correction. It's the child he loves that God corrects;

a father's delight is behind all this. "

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Love Story

When Patti and I were newly married we saw the newly released 1970 film called "Love Story." It is now called "One of the most romantic films of all time." We were gripped by the unfolding romance between the two characters, and shaken by the eventual cancer and death of the newly married woman.

Todays reading is one of the greatest love stories in the Bible. It is 8 chapters long, but each is fairly short.

This must have been his first love, because it is delightful. And very romantic.

2 -3 Kiss me—full on the mouth! Yes! For your love is better than wine, headier than your aromatic oils. The syllables of your name murmur like a meadow brook. No wonder everyone loves to say your name!

There is unabashed attraction between them...

The Man
15 Oh, my dear friend! You're so beautiful! And your eyes so beautiful—like doves!
The Woman
16 -17 And you, my dear lover—you're so handsome! And the bed we share is like a forest glen. We enjoy a canopy of cedars enclosed by cypresses, fragrant and green.

Have you known people who "love to be in love"? Some of them go from relationship to relationship for the thrill of that feeling. Everything is beautiful. Everything is wonderful. These two certainly had that going...

The Man
10 -14 Get up, my dear friend, fair and beautiful lover—come to me! Look around you: Winter is over; the winter rains are over, gone! Spring flowers are in blossom all over. The whole world's a choir—and singing! Spring warblers are filling the forest with sweet arpeggios. Lilacs are exuberantly purple and perfumed, and cherry trees fragrant with blossoms. Oh, get up, dear friend, my fair and beautiful lover—come to me! Come, my shy and modest dove— leave your seclusion, come out in the open. Let me see your face, let me hear your voice. For your voice is soothing and your face is ravishing.

Were they "in love"?

You've captured my heart, dear friend. You looked at me, and I fell in love. One look my way and I was hopelessly in love! How beautiful your love, dear, dear friend— far more pleasing than a fine, rare wine, your fragrance more exotic than select spices. The kisses of your lips are honey, my love, every syllable you speak a delicacy to savor. Your clothes smell like the wild outdoors, the ozone scent of high mountains. Dear lover and friend, you're a secret garden, a private and pure fountain. Body and soul, you are paradise, a whole orchard of succulent fruits— Ripe apricots and peaches, oranges and pears; Nut trees and cinnamon, and all scented woods; Mint and lavender, and all herbs aromatic; A garden fountain, sparkling and splashing, fed by spring waters from the Lebanon mountains.

Yes. I think they were in love.
Lots of romance in this "song of songs"

The Man
4 -7 Dear, dear friend and lover, you're as beautiful as Tirzah, city of delights, Lovely as Jerusalem, city of dreams, the ravishing visions of my ecstasy. Your beauty is too much for me—I'm in over my head. I'm not used to this! I can't take it in. Your hair flows and shimmers like a flock of goats in the distance streaming down a hillside in the sunshine. Your smile is generous and full— expressive and strong and clean. Your veiled cheeks are soft and radiant. 8 -9 There's no one like her on earth, never has been, never will be. She's a woman beyond compare. My dove is perfection, Pure and innocent as the day she was born, and cradled in joy by her mother. Everyone who came by to see her exclaimed and admired her— All the fathers and mothers, the neighbors and friends, blessed and praised her: 10 "Has anyone ever seen anything like this— dawn-fresh, moon-lovely, sun-radiant, ravishing as the night sky with its galaxies of stars?"

And descriptions of love...

The Woman
6 -8 Hang my locket around your neck, wear my ring on your finger. Love is invincible facing danger and death. Passion laughs at the terrors of hell. The fire of love stops at nothing— it sweeps everything before it. Flood waters can't drown love, torrents of rain can't put it out. Love can't be bought, love can't be sold— it's not to be found in the marketplace.

The poem ends with an exhuberant invitation...

The Woman
14 Run to me, dear lover. Come like a gazelle. Leap like a wild stag on the spice mountains.

The Bible's own "Love Story."

Kinda gets your heart pounding and your glassess steamed up...