Monday, January 30
Today’s reading will wrap up the book of Proverbs. This book is one of what we refer to as the five book section of poetry. You’ve probably noticed that neither Proverbs, nor the rest of this section has a lot of rhyme and rhythm which is often associated with poetry. Here’s a little poem I remember from my school days. “Roses are red, Violets are blue. God made me pretty, what happened to you?” The rhyme and rhythm are obvious. The Biblical books of poetry are classified as such, because of the rhyme and rhythm of thought and reason. This is often called parallelism, putting similar or contrasting thoughts side by side. These five books are also often called Wisdom Literature. The reason is obvious. They are full of wisdom, every one of them, but particularly the Proverbs.
I liken the book of Proverbs to the New Testament book of James. Both are very practical, and contain much wisdom for day to day living. The Proverbs can be seen not so much as hard and fast promises or guarantees, but rather as counsel, guidance, directives to follow, with consequential blessings.
Solomon wrote many of the proverbs contained in this book, though not all of them. He actually did write many, many other proverbs not contained in this book. His wisdom was a gift from God, and we would do well to follow his counsel.
Read Proverbs 29 slowly and observe the many and varied topics. You might recall Biblical examples that fit right into some of the proverbs. You may even think of real life experiences that relate to or prove some of the counsel shared.
Proverbs 30 begins, “The sayings of Agur son of Jakeh – an oracle.” An oracle is either the counsel or message of a person of trust and authority, or the person him or herself. Again, I would suggest you read slowly through Proverbs 30. Ponder the various topics addressed. Agur likes the organization of numbers, two things he asked of the LORD, four things that are never satisfied, four things that are amazing, four things under which the earth trembles, four things that are small, yet extremely wise, and more.
Proverbs 31 comes in two parts. The first nine verses are an oracle (again), this time from the mother of King Lemuel. I’ll just comment a bit on verses 4-7, where she addresses the use of alcohol. The use of alcohol is very much accepted these days within the church as well as without. Lemuel’s mother cautioned him about its use, because of the risk of it affecting the king’s ability to properly perform his responsibilities. The contrast then is given in verses 6 and 7, “Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish; let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.” Alcohol so easily impairs people to the point where it’s an effective escape from the realities of life. I can’t tell you the Bible condemns the use of alcohol, but I would caution those who use it freely that it often impairs the user of both wisdom and judgment. I’ve seen all too often how the abuse of alcohol has been behind the ruining of marriages, families, careers, relationships, integrity; people have been killed, etc. Most of the examples and stories I could cite have been within the church, people who should have known better, people who never set out to destroy their marriage, family, career, etc. They just got caught up. It isn’t worth it to me, to use my freedom to use alcohol, when the abuse of it is so easy and so costly. I have enough of a challenge to somewhat control my food intake, and am not willing to risk what could happen if I were to use, and go on to abuse alcohol. I’m confident that those who never take their first drink will never be an alcoholic. I’ve never heard of an alcoholic who set out to become one.
The rest of Proverbs 31 is a wonderful passage describing a beautiful wife and mother. It’s actually an acrostic, with each verse beginning with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Of course we lose all that in the translation into the English language. It’s still a beautiful description. This is as modern day as one could ask. Read through it slowly. If you’re in search of a wife, look for someone such as this. If you are a wife, or may be some day, be one such as this. If your wife or mother is one such as this, rise up and do as suggested in verses 28-31.
John A. Railton
-John Railton is a pastor in Northern Indiana at Family Bible Church. He also uses his ministry talents working at a funeral home. He would love to have a conversation with you about the Bible – and maybe play a round of ping-pong, too.
(photo credit: https://dailyverses.net/proverbs/30/5)