Proverbs 27

pr27-death-and-destruction

Proverbs 27:1-4
Do not boast about tomorrow,
for you do not know what a day may bring.
2 Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth;
an outsider, and not your own lips.
3 Stone is heavy and sand a burden,
but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both.
4 Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming,
but who can stand before jealousy?
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Verse 1 is echoed in the New Testament by James 4:13-17 and Luke 12:16-21. God is the one who handles our destiny. We do not know when we will meet him. As discussed in house church yesterday. The question is not about what shall I do today or tomorrow but more am I ready to meet God? (Amos 4:12).

Verse 2 addresses the issue of bigging ourselves up. Allow God to do any bigging up that is needed. It’s what he does for us. Our job is to big him up in a world that minimizes him or has forgotten him. He will take care of us. No problem. I may not be overtly boastful but I am clever with how I position myself. It’s a more subtle version of boasting. However, it doesn’t matter how we dress it up. Boastful and inflating ourselves to be more than we are is ugly and not really our job. 

In verse 3 we read about a fools provocation. There’s nothing wrong with provocation as such. Jesus was provocative. He challenged the status quo. A fool is provocative without a cause or purpose. His desire is to antagonize and bring about dissension or disruption. There is nowhere to go with it. The outcome will be unrest and burden.

Verse 4 tells us that the fury of anger though challenging to endure will be over like a storm and will end. It will become quiet again. It can be overcome and an equilibrium can be restored. 

Jealousy however is a contamination that continues to brood and will erode at any unity or harmony in a much more subtle way. Peace cannot be restored whilst there is jealousy even though on the surface things may look okay. There is a toxicity underneath that will destroy. Attitudes like resentment and jealousy are slow burners but they will destroy.

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Proverbs 27:5-6

5 Better is open rebuke
than hidden love.
6 Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
but an enemy multiplies kisses.
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Love without the willingness to speak the truth is destructive and damaging. Even enemies will flatter us for their own gain. We can trust correction and honest counsel if we are secure in the love of that person. This is a great verse to reflect on.

I have no right to give someone counsel if I don’t truly love them. So many times in discipleship conversations I gave counsel to people because it was my leadership function or my role as a discipleship partner. It was expected of me to manage their religious behaviour. 

It sickens me to think of some of the counsel I gave and why I gave it in the old days. So much of what I did was to be seen as a good leader or impress them with my insight. I did not love those people enough to discover who they are and love them and help them see God.
Wounds from a friend can be trusted. Things are different today.
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Proverbs 27:7-11

7 One who is full loathes honey from the comb,
but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.
8 Like a bird that flees its nest
is anyone who flees from home.
9 Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart,
and the pleasantness of a friend
springs from their heartfelt advice.
10 Do not forsake your friend or a friend of your family,
and do not go to your relative’s house when disaster strikes you—
better a neighbor nearby than a relative far away.
11 Be wise, my son, and bring joy to my heart;
then I can answer anyone who treats me with contempt.
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Happiness and being content is dependent on our perspective. A wealthy man may take good food for granted and a poor man will really enjoy a good meal. I really like the discipline that we live under now rather than the unrestrained spending that I did in recent years. 

Everything is a blessing. Things I took for granted before are now incredible blessings.

In verse 7 Solomon uses the example of honey from the comb. A rich man who may have it every day may be bored of it but to a poor man a taste of honey would be the most incredible nectar.

In verse 8 we read about a bird fleeing from its nest and makes the comparison of fleeing from home. A mother bird that abandoned her nest would leave her chicks vulnerable and a chick fleeing without the mother would put itself in a vulnerable position. A family home is a safe haven and a place that we can take care of each other’s needs. To leave it will bring about vulnerable exposure. I really appreciate the safe haven of family and the importance of it today.

Verse 9 tells us of pleasant aroma’s and compares it to helpfulness of supporting friends. There is a warmth that we feel when we know that our friends are on our side.

Verse 10 is a bit of a tough nut to crack. What does the term neighbour mean in this case? Is it a guy in the same street? A fellow Israelite (or for us …another Christian)? Does it mean non Israelite or non Christian? (Since brother in the OT could be applied to all Israelites and in the NT to all Christians)  or perhaps the principle of not being too selective about who we ask for help is what is meant by this Proverb. 

I think it’s this latter idea that resonates with me the most. Solomon seems to be saying that we should build good relationships with more than just blood relatives. The neighbor is related by friendship with the person’s father, and it makes a lot of sense to be on good terms with those who live close by.
It seems that the Proverb is saying that whilst we should select someone we trust we should consider the convenience of proximity and availability. That makes sense to me. Interestingly enough there is a parallel passage in the Assyrian Wisdom of Ahiqar.

In verse 11, we read of a father appealing to a son that he wishes him to be wise. If the son is making good decisions then he will be proud of him and can endure the most difficult criticism. I feel very proud of my children. For all my errors and flaws they are incredible. I can endure a lot because I am proud of my family.
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Proverbs 27:12-17

12 The prudent see danger and take refuge,
but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.
13 Take the garment of one who puts up security for a stranger;
hold it in pledge if it is done for an outsider.
14 If anyone loudly blesses their neighbor early in the morning,
it will be taken as a curse.
15 A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping
of a leaky roof in a rainstorm;
16 restraining her is like restraining the wind
or grasping oil with the hand.
17 As iron sharpens iron,
so one person sharpens another.
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Verses 12 & 13 are repeats of Proverbs 22:3. & Proverbs 20:16. respectively. It’s a bit like the regurgitated greatest hits album that comes out every few years with duplicate tracks from the previous collection. This collection was perhaps used for a different purpose or audience but contained some of the same material.

Verse 14 is funny. A loud blessing on your neighbour whilst he is trying to sleep will not be received well. It’s important for us to be considerate with our timing. If we want to give a gift to our neighbour we should do it when he will be receptive and attentive. It’s not appropriate to disturb someone’s sleep or interrupt them in the middle of something important. Timing is everything!!!

Verses 15-16 deal with a topic that comes up a few times in the Proverbs. As Solomon had 300 wives I am sure that he had some experience of the quarrelsome wife. It is up to me as a husband to anticipate needs and feelings, to read her well to minimize the quarrels. That does not mean pander to whims but does mean listen and understand !

Verse 17 is a well used verse to support the idea of discipleship relationships. The real intent of this verse is broader than that of course. It’s about the purpose of friendship being not only to enjoy each other but to help each other grow, to support each other and encourage each other. It’s not legislative but a blessing of friendship.
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Proverbs 17:18-22

18 The one who guards a fig tree will eat its fruit,
and whoever protects their master will be honored.
19 As water reflects the face,
so one’s life reflects the heart.
20 Death and Destruction are never satisfied,
and neither are human eyes.
21 The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,
but people are tested by their praise.
22 Though you grind a fool in a mortar,
grinding them like grain with a pestle,
you will not remove their folly from them.
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We read in verse 18 that the farmer who is attentive to his crop will benefit from a good harvest. In a similar way a servant who takes diligent care of his master’s business will also reap a good reward.
Verse 19 informs us that the evidence of our life reflects what is going on in our hearts. The big question in here is how do I spend my time? and How do I spend my money? That is perhaps our great revealer. My selfishness is glaringly obvious.

Verse 20 reminds us of the human unquenchable thirst for more. We operate from a point of lack. We focus so much on what we don’t have rather than what we do have and Jesus says we will always be thirsty. It’s the human condition. Only he can quench that thirst. (John 4:13-14). As Christians, we have the possibility of learning to be content. (Philippians 4:11-13). God told Abraham “I am your very great reward” …the presence of God in our lives is the greatest and only quencher! I must learn to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus and not worldly things. I won’t find meaning in those things.

Verse 21 compares the furnace that refines precious metals to praise.
You can find out whether gold is real in a furnace. Gold does not burn. And silver does not burn. All the impurities will melt. Praise is a furnace ….what comes out of our mouths reveals our heart and attitude but also when others praise us it can be very revealing of pride and humility.

Verse 22 uses the analogy of the beating of grain to a beating of a fool. Grinding and beating the grain will refine it to make bread but a fool will not be refined. Some people will remain rebellious no matter what punishment you put them under !!!
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Proverbs 27:23-27
23 Be sure you know the condition of your flocks,
give careful attention to your herds;
24 for riches do not endure forever,
and a crown is not secure for all generations.
25 When the hay is removed and new growth appears
and the grass from the hills is gathered in,
26 the lambs will provide you with clothing,
and the goats with the price of a field.
27 You will have plenty of goats’ milk to feed your family
and to nourish your female servants.

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Solomon is describing a farm. He warns the farmer to be responsible. He wants him to be diligent, work hard and this in turn will take care of the needs of his family. God has given the farmer some resources which can make a profitable business for him. He needs to be a good steward of those resources. He will even take care of his servants.

These verses teach us several lessons:
·    Life is not just about making money. There should be purpose to our work (verse 24).
·    God created the seasons of the year. So plan to do the right work at the right time (verse 25).
·    Be a good steward with the things that God has created and entrusted you with. Then God will supply the things that you need (verses 26-27).

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