Job 39

Job 39:1-12

39 “Do you know when the mountain goats give birth?
    Do you watch when the doe bears her fawn?

Do you count the months till they bear?

    Do you know the time they give birth?

They crouch down and bring forth their young;

    their labour pains are ended.

Their young thrive and grow strong in the wilds;

    they leave and do not return.

“Who let the wild donkey go free?

    Who untied its ropes?

I gave it the wasteland as its home,

    the salt flats as its habitat.

It laughs at the commotion in the town;

    it does not hear a driver’s shout.

It ranges the hills for its pasture

    and searches for any green thing.

“Will the wild ox consent to serve you?

    Will it stay by your manger at night?

10 Can you hold it to the furrow with a harness?

    Will it till the valleys behind you?

11 Will you rely on it for its great strength?

    Will you leave your heavy work to it?

12 Can you trust it to haul in your grain

    and bring it to your threshing floor?

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The wonders of the animal kingdom are put before Job and further questions that he would have no answer for.

Job had at one point reasoned that God did not really know his situation. The reason that he had not yet been rescued was because perhaps God was unaware. God clearly knows the details of how the complexity of his creation works and he knows the small details of Job’s life.

The diversity of creation is brought to the table. Every animal has it’s own personality and instinct. This is true of each individual human being too, The variety and complexity in creation is astounding,

Jesus taught a lesson in Matthew 10:29-31 that he knows even when one sparrow falls to the ground and that we will not be forgotten, God knows the details of our lives, He knows everything that has shaped us and caused us to act in ignorance and fear. He knows why sin has surfaced in our lives, He understands this and has compassion for our pitiful plight.

In verses 1-12 we read about goats, donkeys and oxen. On the farm these animals are domesticated and managed but here he speaks of wild animals before they are tamed. They behave as God intended them to behave and not to obey the instructions of men.

Wild goats are shy, they live in the mountains. The young goats are not loyal to their mothers, they quickly gain their independence and go off on their own.

A tame donkey is a loyal animal that is easily managed and can carry heavy loads. A wild donkey however is completely different, it will not obey any man’s orders. It is completely unmanageable.

An ox has incredible strength. Job used to own 1000 oxen (Job 1:3), they are very useful in agriculture because of their strength.

I have seen verse 9 translated as unicorn before but the Hebrew word just means an animal with horns. The idea is an animal that cannot easily be domesticated. Ox seems better to convey the idea. It is an animal of great strength. However, it would be of no use to the farmer if it cannot be tamed. It might wander into the fields and instead of being useful to the farmer it would destroy the crops.

A wild ox would be happy to take the crops but instead of taking the crops to the farm house or the barn it would eat the crops itself!

The question being asked of Job and his friends is what do you really know? Who are you to question my ways and my purposes? You have no idea about the complexity of creation and why I have done what I have done or the point of all this. Just be quiet!!!

Good point. I am too quick to lose my gratitude and perspective and act as though all that matters is whatever is in front of my nose. There is a big world out there beyond my needs, my wants, my desires, my issues and problems. 

God is God, I am not!!!

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Job 39:13-18

13 “The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully,     though they cannot compare     with the wings and feathers of the stork. 14 She lays her eggs on the ground     and lets them warm in the sand, 15 unmindful that a foot may crush them,     that some wild animal may trample them. 16 She treats her young harshly, as if they were not hers;     she cares not that her labour was in vain, 17 for God did not endow her with wisdom     or give her a share of good sense. 18 Yet when she spreads her feathers to run,     she laughs at horse and rider.

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In his description of the ostrich God lets us know about the diversity in creation. Some animals are created to be wise and clever, others are created with other impressive traits but are not so bright. The Ostrich is a mixture of foolishness and strength. Ostriches have been known to chase horses and scare them off!

The variety in creation is astounding. There are some bizarre creatures out there and some very majestic creatures. The ostrich has wings but does not fly. It runs extremely fast and has incredible strength. Some birds are extremely careful about their eggs and care for their young but ostrich eggs are left in vulnerable places and it does not appear to have any sense of maternal instinct.

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Job 39:19-25

19 “Do you give the horse its strength     or clothe its neck with a flowing mane? 20 Do you make it leap like a locust,     striking terror with its proud snorting? 21 It paws fiercely, rejoicing in its strength,     and charges into the fray. 22 It laughs at fear, afraid of nothing;     it does not shy away from the sword. 23 The quiver rattles against its side,     along with the flashing spear and lance. 24 In frenzied excitement it eats up the ground;     it cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds. 25 At the blast of the trumpet it snorts, ‘Aha!’     It catches the scent of battle from afar,     the shout of commanders and the battle cry.

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From the ostrich we move into a magnificent, vivid picture of the war horse.

A war horse is more fearless than a loyal soldier.

Ostriches are like cowards! They run away from the battle. But army horses do the opposite. They race into the battle.

The Ostrich has physical strength but the horse represents mental strength and courage as well as physical strength.

Man did not give the horse strength, God did.

An army set for battle is set rigid with discipline and focus to hem back the fear that may be felt. The horse however, is impatient and engaging, it cannot stand still, but rises up with his fore feet and paws and prances. it digs the earth and makes it hollow, by a continual striking upon the ground. It feels no fear and has no hesitation.

Horses are not able to reason that they might be going to their own death in battle. They just want to do what horses do. This is the wonder of God’s design.

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Job 39:26-30

26 “Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom     and spread its wings toward the south? 27 Does the eagle soar at your command     and build its nest on high? 28 It dwells on a cliff and stays there at night;     a rocky crag is its stronghold. 29 From there it looks for food;     its eyes detect it from afar. 30 Its young ones feast on blood,     and where the slain are, there it is.”

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The hawk’s strength of wing is extraordinary, and one of the most majestic sights is to see a bird of prey in flight. Human ingenuity has not been able to master flight so majestic.

Even young hawks manage such precision navigation in their migration.

The sight of a bird of prey is razor sharp, When it spies it’s prey, it flies with incredible swiftness and accuracy, even like an arrow out of a bow.

Eleven of God’s creatures, six beasts and five birds, are presented for Job to explain. God cycled through all of these subjects, and when He finished, Job had not answered one question.

We have nothing to answer in creation. What can we say?

Proverbs 29

proverbs_29_25_by_lizzay

Proverbs 29:1-4
Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes
will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.
2 When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice;
when the wicked rule, the people groan.
3 A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father,
but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth.
4 By justice a king gives a country stability,
but those who are greedy for bribes tear it down.
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Verse 1 informs us that if we refuse to learn the outcome of our life will not be good. We must learn as our knowledge of God grows, we must learn by listening to wise counsel of others, we must learn from our own mistakes. (See also Proverbs 1:24-33).

Verse 2 I am sure was an instruction to Solomon’s son. The King designate. To win the hearts of the people the ruler needs to be absent of self service and corruption. The people will thrive under a God fearing fair ruler.

We do not want wicked rulers. I pray that our rulers will be good rulers. Everyone will benefit if our rulers are good.I know that God uses good, bad and really bad rulers to bring about his purposes but I pray that our rulers can gain spiritual wisdom. 

Verse 3 is sad because we know the outcome of this instruction from Solomon to his son. Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, sadly was a foolish king. He loved pleasure. His selfish attitudes caused his country to split in two. His people suffered greatly because of his actions.

I don’t write this with any sense of judgment. I did the same thing with my household and hurt many people that trusted me. The damage is irreparable even with my own good hearted efforts. 

God can repair what I cannot and this world is in a state of disrepair as are all of our lives. None of this get’s fixed completely until eternity.

Solomon was a king. And he was also a judge. He believed that a ruler must be fair. He taught his officials to refuse bribes. Verse 4 echoes this attitude. Later Hezekiah became king. His officials found this good advice and they copied it (Proverbs 25:1).
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Proverbs 29:5-6

Those who flatter their neighbors
are spreading nets for their feet.
6 Evildoers are snared by their own sin,
but the righteous shout for joy and are glad.
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The first man has an evil scheme. He uses words that are not sincere to praise his neighbour. So this evil man pretends that his neighbour is a great man. The evil man wants the neighbour to trust him. This will benefit him in some way

It looks as though the evil man is creating a net for his own feet or perhaps the neighbour’s feet. Either and both could be the outcome. Whatever it is, the bottom line is that we should beware of flattery from others and at the same time be sincere with our own words. 

Sometimes flattery serves as a mild manipulation and sometimes it can be more sinister. Anything less than sincerity is a net. I am committed to being sincere today. Verse 6 tells us that the evil man brings on his own problems.
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Proverbs 29:7-11

7 The righteous care about justice for the poor,
but the wicked have no such concern.
8 Mockers stir up a city,
but the wise turn away anger.
9 If a wise person goes to court with a fool,
the fool rages and scoffs, and there is no peace.
10 The bloodthirsty hate a person of integrity
and seek to kill the upright.
11 Fools give full vent to their rage,
but the wise bring calm in the end.
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Verse 7 reminds us that to love is to put down our self interest and to care for those who are poor or have no voice. I want to do something proactive that meets the need of someone that cannot help themselves. I think about it often. Occasionally I might do some good deed that helps improve another person’s day in some small way but I pray for God to put something special on my heart in this area.

In verse 8 we read about the wise diffusing anger. A hot topic needs to be considered carefully. When we are angry, we cannot always make sensible decisions. I love the way myself and my wife are tackling our hot topics.

The fool in verse 9 does not like the wise man’s calm and sensible words. They incite his anger and the situation becomes charged. It will be hard to take him seriously even if he has a point to make. Too much noise and not enough substance.

In verse 10 we read about people who are bent on doing wrong and how they war against honest people because they know that their dishonesty will be exposed.

Verse 11 shows us the unbridled and provocative anger of a fool. A wise man on The other hand knows that nothing good can be achieved unless negotiations are carried out in a calm manner !
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Proverbs 29:12-14

12 If a ruler listens to lies,
all his officials become wicked.
13 The poor and the oppressor have this in common:
The Lord gives sight to the eyes of both.
14 If a king judges the poor with fairness,
his throne will be established forever.
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Verse 12 informs us that leaders need honest advisors. Some leaders surround themselves with “yes men” and people who tell them what they want to hear. This is not good practice and sooner or later it will erode whatever the leader is supposed to be leading whether it is a country, an organization, a business or a church.

Verses 13 & 14 is about being fair and taking care of the poor. In many societies the poor are neglected and not cared for. God wants us to care for those who cannot care for themselves. His heart is that the poor and needy are looked after, helped and empowered rather than oppressed and deprived of opportunity to change their situation.
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Proverbs 29:15-21

15 A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom,
but a child left undisciplined disgraces its mother.
16 When the wicked thrive, so does sin,
but the righteous will see their downfall.
17 Discipline your children, and they will give you peace;
they will bring you the delights you desire.
18 Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint;
but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.
19 Servants cannot be corrected by mere words;
though they understand, they will not respond.
20 Do you see someone who speaks in haste?
There is more hope for a fool than for them.
21 A servant pampered from youth
will turn out to be insolent.
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These few verses all deal with the issue of training and discipline and the dilemma of seeing people without morality succeed. The reminder is that discipline is good, we should train our children with discipline so that they learn and God himself will discipline in an appropriate manner with the right measure at the right time. His goal is not to punish in order to satisfy his anger but rather to discipline for the best opportunity to learn, grow and change hence his timing is sometimes beyond our comprehension. The main message of the verses though is the wisdom of discipline and to carefully measure and exercise that discipline.
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Proverbs 29:22-27

22 An angry person stirs up conflict,
and a hot-tempered person commits many sins.
23 Pride brings a person low,
but the lowly in spirit gain honor.
24 The accomplices of thieves are their own enemies;
they are put under oath and dare not testify.
25 Fear of man will prove to be a snare,
but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.
26 Many seek an audience with a ruler,
but it is from the Lord that one gets justice.
27 The righteous detest the dishonest;
the wicked detest the upright.
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These verses play good versus evil in a collection of sayings that are underpinned by the fact that to trust in the Lord is the only security we have and the justice of the Lord is the only true justice. Light and darkness do not mix.  You may or may not get justice from a ruler but you can be assured that if you do it is because God has woven it into the fabric of the universe and the ruler has somehow been able to tap into it. All good things come from God.

To fear or worry about what other people think, what they might do is a snare that will steal our authenticity and perhaps our life.

Pride and anger are destructive and to accomplice with thieves will lead us to a dark place. In contrast peace and humility in the fear of the Lord are the way forward.

Humility is not to have a low opinion of self but to have no opinion of self. It’s to live outside of self. That’s a remarkable place to get to. I don’t think any of us could truly arrive but I can strive. 

Proverbs 6

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Proverbs 6
Warnings Against Folly

6 My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor,
if you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger,
2 you have been trapped by what you said,
ensnared by the words of your mouth.
3 So do this, my son, to free yourself,
since you have fallen into your neighbor’s hands:
Go—to the point of exhaustion—
and give your neighbor no rest!
4 Allow no sleep to your eyes,
no slumber to your eyelids.
5 Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter,
like a bird from the snare of the fowler.
6 Go to the ant, you sluggard;
consider its ways and be wise!
7 It has no commander,
no overseer or ruler,
8 yet it stores its provisions in summer
and gathers its food at harvest.
9 How long will you lie there, you sluggard?
When will you get up from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest—
11 and poverty will come on you like a thief
and scarcity like an armed man.
12 A troublemaker and a villain,
who goes about with a corrupt mouth,
13     who winks maliciously with his eye,
signals with his feet
and motions with his fingers,
14     who plots evil with deceit in his heart—
he always stirs up conflict.
15 Therefore disaster will overtake him in an instant;
he will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.
16 There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
17         haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
18         a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
19         a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.
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In this poem, Solomon compares our mistakes to a hunter’s trap. In verse 1, Solomon’s son had good intentions. He wanted to help his neighbour. The son trusted the neighbour. He tried to do the right thing, but the neighbour would not do the right thing. If his neighbour could not pay, Solomon’s son promised to pay instead. Now, his neighbour has failed to pay. The lender expects Solomon’s son to pay. The son’s plan failed and now he is in danger.

These verses resonate with me. I placed myself into so many situations that put me in spiritual and even physical danger. I fell into so many traps. I unwittingly devised some of the traps myself.
Verse 3 calls for humility. If Solomon’s son was proud, he could not escape. He is like an animal in a trap. He cannot free himself. He must ask for freedom. He must ask for help. The only way out of a trap is through humility and the heart of the person that you are appealing to.
Verse 4 calls for swift action to get out of the trap. Waiting and procrastinating or sitting on the fence will not help. It calls for the eagerness, earnestness of repentance. Act quickly, like an animal that runs to escape from a hunter.
In verses 6-11 the virtues of hard work are discussed and the perils of laziness. In 2 Thessalonians 3:10, some Christians refused to work. The church gave food to them. Paul told the church not to do this. ‘If a man will not work, then he shall not eat.’ He added, ‘Do not get too tired to do the right things.’ (2 Thessalonians 3:13)

Evil is generally plotted in secret but there are telltale signs. Verses 12-15 give us some clues. The outcome is not pretty. Not only will he be destroyed but destroyed without remedy. There’s no fix.This strikes fear into me. I think it is supposed to do that.I am fortunate that I was spared destruction without remedy.

Verses 16-19 use a different style of poetry. The poet writes a list of things that God opposes. This style is present in the book of Amos and Proverbs 30. The numbers in the list are not important but the content is a list of attitudes and actions that God hates. I can sadly lay claim to six of the seven. Maybe even seven if viewed in a metaphorical way. I don’t have a leg to stand on.
The qualities to focus on in this section of Proverbs are humility, hard work and being swiftly decisive to do what is right.
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Proverbs 6
Warning Against Adultery

20 My son, keep your father’s command
and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
21 Bind them always on your heart;
fasten them around your neck.
22 When you walk, they will guide you;
when you sleep, they will watch over you;
when you awake, they will speak to you.
23 For this command is a lamp,
this teaching is a light,
and correction and instruction
are the way to life,
24 keeping you from your neighbor’s wife,
from the smooth talk of a wayward woman.
25 Do not lust in your heart after her beauty
or let her captivate you with her eyes.
26 For a prostitute can be had for a loaf of bread,
but another man’s wife preys on your very life.
27 Can a man scoop fire into his lap
without his clothes being burned?
28 Can a man walk on hot coals
without his feet being scorched?
29 So is he who sleeps with another man’s wife;
no one who touches her will go unpunished.
30 People do not despise a thief if he steals
to satisfy his hunger when he is starving.
31 Yet if he is caught, he must pay sevenfold,
though it costs him all the wealth of his house.
32 But a man who commits adultery has no sense;
whoever does so destroys himself.
33 Blows and disgrace are his lot,
and his shame will never be wiped away.
34 For jealousy arouses a husband’s fury,
and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge.
35 He will not accept any compensation;
he will refuse a bribe, however great it is.
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The pursuit of wisdom should underpin my life and be the foundation of my decision making. My study time each day is a lifeline that helps me to stay away from my own dangerous thinking. It guards me and protects me from myself.
Verse 23 is similar to Psalm 119:105. ‘God’s word is like a lamp for my feet. God’s word is like a light for my path.’
Verse 24 begins a discourse about the lure and danger of the misuse of sex. It will end in disaster. It can be life threatening, it can be financially threatening and it is sure to destroy human relationships. These things are obvious to me. They always were but there was something that propelled me into the abyss. It says something about the strength of the pull.

The passage alludes to the difference between price and cost. The price of a loaf of bread (verse 26) is about £1- £2 at the time of writing. Sex can be obtained freely and easily especially for someone who was skilled with words and perceptive. The price tag may be next to nothing but the cost is established with a question. “Can a man scoop fire into his lap without getting burned?” (verses 27-29)

We read about the thief who is influenced to steal by his hunger. There is some kind of compassion or understanding for the man in this situation and yet he will not escape appropriate punishment. The sex offender is completely without any compassion or goodwill. He will be punished by the system and there will be punishment from the relationships that have been hurt in the process.

I know it. I live it. This is my reality. It is a good thing. I need a strong physical reminder of where my actions led. I thank God for my circumstances. I need them.

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