Proverbs 3 (Bible Marathon Day 325)

Chapter 3

Confidence in God Leads to Prosperity[a]

My son, do not forget[b] my teaching,
    take to heart my commands;
For many days, and years of life,
    and peace, will they bring you.
Do not let love and fidelity forsake you;
    bind them around your neck;
    write them on the tablet of your heart.
Then will you win favor and esteem
    before God and human beings.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    on your own intelligence do not rely;
In all your ways be mindful of him,
    and he will make straight your paths.
Do not be wise in your own eyes,
    fear the Lord and turn away from evil;
This will mean health for your flesh
    and vigor for your bones.
Honor the Lord with your wealth,
    with first fruits of all your produce;
10 Then will your barns be filled with plenty,
    with new wine your vats will overflow.
11 The discipline of the Lord, my son, do not spurn;
    do not disdain his reproof;
12 [c]For whom the Lord loves he reproves,
    as a father, the son he favors.

The Benefits of Finding Wisdom[d]

13 Happy the one who finds wisdom,
    the one who gains understanding!
14 Her profit is better than profit in silver,
    and better than gold is her revenue;
15 She is more precious than corals,
    and no treasure of yours can compare with her.
16 Long life is in her right hand,
    in her left are riches and honor;
17 Her ways are pleasant ways,
    and all her paths are peace;
18 She is a tree of life[e] to those who grasp her,
    and those who hold her fast are happy.
19 The Lord by wisdom founded the earth,
    established the heavens by understanding;
20 By his knowledge the depths[f] are split,
    and the clouds drop down dew.

Justice Toward One’s Neighbor Brings Blessing[g]

21 My son, do not let these slip from your sight:
    hold to deliberation and planning;
22 So will they be life to your soul,[h]
    and an adornment for your neck.
23 Then you may go your way securely;
    your foot will never stumble;
24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid,
    when you rest, your sleep will be sweet.
25 Do not be afraid of sudden terror,
    of the ruin of the wicked when it comes;
26 For the Lord will be your confidence,
    and will keep your foot from the snare.
27 Do not withhold any goods from the owner
    when it is in your power to act.
28 Say not to your neighbor, “Go, come back tomorrow,
    and I will give it to you,” when all the while you have it.
29 Do not plot evil against your neighbors,
    when they live at peace with you.
30 Do not contend with someone without cause,
    with one who has done you no harm.
31 Do not envy the violent
    and choose none of their ways:
32 To the Lord the devious are an abomination,
    but the upright are close to him.
33 The curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked,
    but the dwelling of the just he blesses;
34 Those who scoff, he scoffs at,
    but the lowly he favors.
35 The wise will possess glory,
    but fools will bear shame.

Footnotes:

  1. 3:1–12 The instruction consists of a series of six four-line exhortations in which the second line of each exhortation mentions a reward or benefit. In the first five exhortations, the teacher promises a reward: long life, a good name, divine protection, health, abundant crops. The last exhortation, vv. 11–12, departs from the command-reward scheme, implying that being a disciple of the Lord does not guarantee unalloyed bliss: one must allow God freedom to “reprove” or educate. The process of education is like that described in chap. 2: the father first invites his son (or disciple) to memorize his teaching (v. 1), then to enter upon a relationship of trust with him (v. 3), and finally to place his trust in God, who takes up the parental task of education (v. 5). Education begun by the parent is brought to full completion by God.
  2. 3:1 Do not forget: this word and several others in the section such as “teaching,” “commands,” “years of life,” and the custom of affixing written teaching to one’s body, occur also in Deuteronomy. This vocabulary suggests that Proverbs and Deuteronomy had a common origin in the scribal class of Jerusalem. This section (and vv. 21–34) subtly elaborates Dt 6:5–9, “You shall love the Lord with all your heart (v. 5)…Take to heart these words (v. 1)…Recite them when you are at home and when you are away (v. 23)…when you lie down (v. 24)…Bind them (v. 3) on your arm as a sign and let them be a pendant on your forehead” (v. 21).
  3. 3:12 One might be tempted to judge the quality of one’s relationship to God by one’s prosperity. It is an inadequate criterion, for God as a teacher might go counter to student expectations. The discipline of God can involve suffering.
  4. 3:13–20 An encomium of Wisdom through the listing of her benefits to the human race and the depiction of her role in creation. Wisdom, or understanding, is more valuable than silver and gold. Its fruit is long life, riches, honor and happiness (vv. 13–18). Even the creation of the universe and its adornment (Gn 1) were not done without wisdom (vv. 19–20). The praise of Wisdom foreshadows the praise of a noble wife in the final poem (31:10–31), even to the singling out of the hands extended in a helpful way toward human beings.
  5. 3:18 A tree of life: in the Old Testament this phrase occurs only in Proverbs (11:30; 13:12; 15:4) and Genesis (2:9; 3:22, 24). The origins of the concept are obscure; there is no explicit mention of it in ancient Near Eastern literature, though on ancient seals trees are sometimes identified as trees of life. When the man and the woman were expelled from the garden, the tree of life was put off limits to them, lest they “eat of it and live forever” (Gn 3:22). The quest for wisdom gives access to the previously sequestered tree of life. The tree of life is mentioned also in the apocryphal work 1 Enoch 25:4–5. Rev 2 and 22 mention the tree of life as a source of eternal life.
  6. 3:20 Depths: for the Hebrews, the depths enclosed the great subterranean waters; the rain and dew descended from the waters above the firmament; cf. Gn 1:6–10; Jb 26:8, 12; Ps 18:15; 24:2. The cosmogony provides the reason why Wisdom offers such benefits to human beings: the world was created in wisdom so that all who live in accord with wisdom live in tune with the universe.
  7. 3:21–35As in other instructions, the father in vv. 21–26 urges the son to seek wisdom, which in this case means practicing the virtues of “deliberation and planning,” a specification of wisdom. Practicing these virtues brings protection from violence (vv. 22–26) and friendship with God (vv. 32–35). The language is like Ps 91.

    Verses 27–35 are arranged according to a clear order. Serving God requires serving one’s neighbor through kindness (vv. 27–28), maintaining peace with the good (vv. 29–31), having no envy of the wicked (v. 31), because the Lord’s friendship and kindness are with the just, not with the wicked. Matching the six exhortations of vv. 1–12, vv. 27–34 contain six prohibitions. The righteous/wicked contrast is progressively developed: in contrast to the wicked, the righteous are in God’s inner circle, their houses are blessed, they deal with a merciful God, and obtain honor.

  8. 3:22 Your soul: Heb. nephesh means “throat, esophagus; life; soul.” The meanings are connected. The throat area is the moist, breathing center of the body, which stands for life and for self. The figure of speech is called metonymy, in which one word is substituted for another on the basis of a causal relation, e.g., eye for sight, arm for power, or, as here, “throat area” for life. Proverbs sometimes plays on this concrete meaning of life (e.g., 21:23).

Proverbs 2 (Bible Marathon Day 324)

Proverbs Chapter 2

The Blessings of Wisdom[a]

My son, if you receive my words
    and treasure my commands,
Turning your ear to wisdom,[b]
    inclining your heart to understanding;
Yes, if you call for intelligence,
    and to understanding raise your voice;
If you seek her like silver,
    and like hidden treasures search her out,
Then will you understand the fear of the Lord;
    the knowledge of God you will find;
For the Lord gives wisdom,
    from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
He has success in store for the upright,
    is the shield of those who walk honestly,
Guarding the paths of justice,
    protecting the way of his faithful ones,
Then you will understand what is right and just,
    what is fair, every good path;
10 For wisdom will enter your heart,
    knowledge will be at home in your soul,
11 Discretion will watch over you,
    understanding will guard you;
12 [c]Saving you from the way of the wicked,
    from those whose speech is perverse.
13 From those who have left the straight paths
    to walk in the ways of darkness,
14 Who delight in doing evil
    and celebrate perversity;
15 Whose ways are crooked,
    whose paths are devious;
16 [d]Saving you from a stranger,
    from a foreign woman with her smooth words,
17 One who forsakes the companion of her youth
    and forgets the covenant of her God;
18 For her path sinks down to death,
    and her footsteps lead to the shades.[e]
19 None who enter there come back,
    or gain the paths of life.
20 Thus you may walk in the way of the good,
    and keep to the paths of the just.
21 [f]For the upright will dwell in the land,
    people of integrity will remain in it;
22 But the wicked will be cut off from the land,
    the faithless will be rooted out of it.

Footnotes:

  1. 2:1–22 Chapter 2 is a single poem, an acrostic of twenty-two lines, the number of consonants in the Hebrew alphabet. In vv. 1–11, the letter aleph, the first letter of the alphabet, predominates, and in vv. 12–22, the letter lamed, the first letter of the second half of the alphabet. A single structure runs through the whole: if (aleph) you search…then (aleph) the Lord/Wisdom will grant…saving (lamed) you from the wicked man/woman…thus (lamed) you can walk in the safe way….
  2. 2:2–3 Wisdom…understanding…intelligence: various names or aspects of the same gift.
  3. 2:12–15 As in 1:8–19, there is an obstacle to the quest for wisdom—deceitful and violent men. Cf. also 4:10–19. They offer a way of life that is opposed to the way of wisdom.
  4. 2:16–19 A second obstacle and counter-figure to Wisdom, personified as an attractive woman, is the “stranger,” or “foreigner,” from outside the territory or kinship group, hence inappropriate as a marriage partner. In Proverbs she comes to be identified with Woman Folly, whose deceitful words promise life but lead to death. Woman Folly appears also in chap. 5, 6:20–35, chap. 7 and 9:13–18. Covenant: refers to the vow uttered with divine sanction at the woman’s previous marriage, as the parallel verse suggests. She is already married and relations with her would be adulterous.
  5. 2:18 Shades: the inhabitants of Sheol.
  6. 2:21–22 Verses 21–22 echo the ending of Wisdom’s speech in 1:32–33, in which refusing Wisdom’s invitation meant death and obedience to her meant life. The same set of ideas is found in Ps 37 (especially vv. 3, 9, 11, 22, 29, 34, and 38): to live on (or inherit) the land and to be uprooted from the land are expressions of divine recompense.

Proverbs 1 (Bible Marathon Day 324)

I. Title and Introduction

Chapter 1

Purpose of the Proverbs of Solomon[a]

The proverbs[b] of Solomon, the son of David,
    king of Israel:
That people may know wisdom and discipline,[c]
    may understand intelligent sayings;
May receive instruction in wise conduct,
    in what is right, just and fair;
That resourcefulness may be imparted to the naive,[d]
    knowledge and discretion to the young.
The wise by hearing them will advance in learning,
    the intelligent will gain sound guidance,
To comprehend proverb and byword,
    the words of the wise and their riddles.
Fear of the Lord[e] is the beginning of knowledge;
    fools despise wisdom and discipline.

II. Instructions of Parents and of Woman Wisdom

The Path of the Wicked: Greed and Violence[f]

Hear, my son, your father’s instruction,
    and reject not your mother’s teaching;
A graceful diadem will they be for your head;
    a pendant for your neck.
10 My son, should sinners entice you,
11     do not go if they say, “Come along with us!
Let us lie in wait for blood,
    unprovoked, let us trap the innocent;
12 Let us swallow them alive, like Sheol,
    whole, like those who go down to the pit!
13 All kinds of precious wealth shall we gain,
    we shall fill our houses with booty;
14 Cast in your lot with us,
    we shall all have one purse!”
15 My son, do not walk in the way with them,
    hold back your foot from their path!
16 [For their feet run to evil,
    they hasten to shed blood.]
17 In vain a net is spread[g]
    right under the eyes of any bird—
18 They lie in wait for their own blood,
    they set a trap for their own lives.
19 This is the way of everyone greedy for loot:
    it takes away their lives.

Wisdom in Person Gives a Warning[h]

20 Wisdom cries aloud in the street,
    in the open squares she raises her voice;
21 Down the crowded ways she calls out,
    at the city gates she utters her words:
22 [i]“How long, you naive ones, will you love naivete,
23     How long will you turn away at my reproof?
[The arrogant delight in their arrogance,
    and fools hate knowledge.]
    Lo! I will pour out to you my spirit,
    I will acquaint you with my words:
24 ‘Because I called and you refused,
    extended my hand and no one took notice;
25 Because you disdained all my counsel,
    and my reproof you ignored—
26 I, in my turn, will laugh at your doom;
    will mock when terror overtakes you;
27 When terror comes upon you like a storm,
    and your doom approaches like a whirlwind;
    when distress and anguish befall you.’
28 Then they will call me, but I will not answer;
    they will seek me, but will not find me,
29 Because they hated knowledge,
    and the fear of the Lord they did not choose.
30 They ignored my counsel,
    they spurned all my reproof;
31 Well, then, they shall eat the fruit[j] of their own way,
    and with their own devices be glutted.
32 For the straying of the naive kills them,
    the smugness of fools destroys them.
33 But whoever obeys me dwells in security,
    in peace, without fear of harm.”

Footnotes:

  1. 1:1–7 The prologue explains the purpose of the book. The book has a sapiential, ethical, and religious dimension: to bring the inexperienced to knowledge and right conduct, to increase the facility of those already wise for interpreting proverbs, parables and riddles, and to encourage the fulfillment of one’s duties to God.
  2. 1:1 Proverbs: the Hebrew word mashal is broader than English “proverb,” embracing the instructions of chaps. 1–9 and the sayings, observations, and comparisons of chaps. 10–31.
  3. 1:2 Discipline: education or formation which dispels ignorance and corrects vice. Note the reprise of v. 2a in v. 7b.
  4. 1:4 Naive: immature, inexperienced, sometimes the young, hence easily influenced for good or evil.
  5. 1:7 Fear of the Lord: primarily a disposition rather than the emotion of fear; reverential awe and respect toward God combined with obedience to God’s will.
  6. 1:8–19 A parental warning to a young person leaving home, for them to avoid the company of the greedy and violent. Two ways lie before the hearer, a way that leads to death and a way that leads to life. The trap which the wicked set for the innocent (v. 11) in the end takes away the lives of the wicked themselves (v. 19). This theme will recur especially in chaps. 1–9. A second theme introduced here is that of founding (or managing) a household and choosing a spouse. A third theme is the human obstacles to attaining wisdom. Here (and in 2:12–15 and 4:10–19), the obstacle is men (always in the plural); in 2:16–19; 5:1–6; 6:20–35; chap. 7; 9:13–18, the obstacle to the quest is the “foreign” woman (always in the singular).
  7. 1:17 A difficult verse. The most probable interpretation is that no fowler lifts up the net so the bird can see it. The verse might be paraphrased: God does not let those who walk on evil paths see the net that will entrap them. The passive construction (“a net is spread”) is sometimes used to express divine activity. Verse 16 is a later attempt to add clarity. It is a quotation from Is 59:7 and is not in the best Greek manuscripts.
  8. 1:20–33Wisdom is personified as in chaps. 8 and 9:1–6. With divine authority she proclaims the moral order, threatening to leave to their own devices those who disregard her invitation. All three speeches of Woman Wisdom have common features: a setting in city streets; an audience of simple or naive people; a competing appeal (chap. 7 is the competing appeal for chap. 8); an invitation to a relationship that brings long life, riches, repute.

    The structure of the speeches is: A: setting (vv. 20–21); B: Wisdom’s withdrawal, rebuke and announcement (vv. 22–23); reason and rejection I (vv. 24–27); reason and rejection II (vv. 28–31); summary (v. 32); C: the effects of Wisdom’s presence (v. 33). Wisdom’s opening speech is an extended threat ending with a brief invitation (v. 33). Her second speech is an extended invitation ending with a brief threat (8:36). The surprisingly abrupt and harsh tone of her speech is perhaps to be explained as a response to the arrogant words of the men in the previous scene (1:8–19).

  9. 1:22–23 There is textual confusion. Verse 22bc (in the third person) is an addition, interrupting vv. 22a and 23a (in the second person). The addition has been put in brackets, to separate it from the original poem. The original verses do not ask for a change of heart but begin to detail the consequences of disobedience to Wisdom.
  10. 1:31 Eat the fruit: sinners are punished by the consequences of their sins. Wisdom’s voice echoes that of the parents in vv. 8–19. The parents mediate wisdom in vv. 8–19, but here Wisdom herself speaks.

Introduction to the Book of Proverbs (Bible Marathon Day 324)

Introduction to the Book of Proverbs (Bible Marathon Day 324)

So, what is a proverb? Wisdom captured in a sentence. Truth that holds its ground through the ages. A familiar statement expressing a common belief.

The Bible refers to proverbs as “sayings of the wise” (Proverbs 24:23) and “sayings and riddles of the wise” (Proverbs 1:6).

A good definition of a biblical proverb is “a short saying that expresses a general truth for practical, godly living.” The word proverb means “to be like”; thus, the book of Proverbs is full of comparisons showing us how various images illustrate the fundamental truths of life. The purpose of a proverb is to present wisdom in a short, memorable format. (source: wikipedia)

The repeated theme is that “the fear of God (meaning submission to the will of God) is the beginning of wisdom”.

Proverbs teach us not just how to think, but also how to do “what is right and just and fair” (Proverbs 1:3). They’re designed to make us behave differently. They’re meant to be life changing, and they are.

Psalm 150 (Bible Marathon Day 323)

Psalm 150[a]

Final Doxology

Hallelujah!

Praise God in his holy sanctuary;[b]
    give praise in the mighty dome of heaven.
Give praise for his mighty deeds,
    praise him for his great majesty.
Give praise with blasts upon the horn,
    praise him with harp and lyre.
Give praise with tambourines and dance,
    praise him with strings and pipes.
Give praise with crashing cymbals,
    praise him with sounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath
    give praise to the Lord!
Hallelujah!

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 150 The Psalm is a closing doxology both for the fifth book of the Psalms (Ps 107–149) and for the Psalter as a whole. Temple musicians and dancers are called to lead all beings on earth and in heaven in praise of God. The Psalm proclaims to whom praise shall be given, and where (Ps 150:1); what praise shall be given, and why (Ps 150:2); how praise shall be given (Ps 150:3–5), and by whom (Ps 150:6).
  2. 150:1 His holy sanctuary: God’s Temple on earth. The mighty dome of heaven: lit., “[God’s] strong vault”; heaven is here imagined as a giant plate separating the inhabited world from the waters of the heavens.

Psalm 149 (Bible Marathon Day 323)

Psalm 149[a]

Praise God with Song and Sword

Hallelujah!

Sing to the Lord a new song,
    his praise in the assembly of the faithful.
Let Israel be glad in its maker,
    the people of Zion rejoice in their king.
Let them praise his name in dance,
    make music with tambourine and lyre.[b]
For the Lord takes delight in his people,
    honors the poor with victory.
Let the faithful rejoice in their glory,
    cry out for joy on their couches,[c]
With the praise of God in their mouths,
    and a two-edged sword in their hands,
To bring retribution on the nations,
    punishment on the peoples,
To bind their kings in shackles,
    their nobles in chains of iron,
To execute the judgments decreed for them—
    such is the glory[d] of all God’s faithful.
Hallelujah!

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 149 A hymn inviting the people of Israel to celebrate their God in song and festive dance (Ps 149:1–3, 5) because God has chosen them and given them victory (Ps 149:4). The exodus and conquest are the defining acts of Israel; the people must be ready to do again those acts in the future at the divine command (Ps 149:6–9).
  2. 149:3 Make music with tambourine and lyre: the verse recalls the great exodus hymn of Ex 15:20.
  3. 149:5 On their couches: the people reclined to banquet.
  4. 149:9 The glory: what brings honor to the people is their readiness to carry out the divine will, here conceived as punishing injustice done by the nations.

Psalm 148 (Bible Marathon Day 323)

Psalm 148[a]
All Creation Summoned to Praise

1 Hallelujah!
I
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights.
2 Praise him, all you his angels;
give praise, all you his hosts.
3 Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all shining stars.
4 Praise him, highest heavens,[b]
you waters above the heavens.
5 Let them all praise the Lord’s name;
for he commanded and they were created,
6 Assigned them their station forever,
set an order that will never change.
II
7 Praise the Lord from the earth,
you sea monsters and all the deeps of the sea;
8 Lightning and hail, snow and thick clouds,
storm wind that fulfills his command;
9 Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars;
10 Animals wild and tame,
creatures that crawl and birds that fly;
11 Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all who govern on earth;
12 Young men and women too,
old and young alike.
13 Let them all praise the Lord’s name,
for his name alone is exalted,
His majesty above earth and heaven.
14 [c]He has lifted high the horn of his people;
to the praise of all his faithful,
the Israelites, the people near to him.
Hallelujah!

Footnotes:

Psalm 148 A hymn inviting the beings of heaven (Ps 148:1–6) and of earth (Ps 148:7–
14) to praise God. The hymn does not distinguish between inanimate and animate (and
rational) nature.
148:4 Highest heavens: lit., “the heavens of the heavens,” i.e., the space above the
firmament, where the “upper waters” are stored, cf. Gn 1:6–7; Dt 10:14; 1 Kgs 8:27; Ps
104:3, 13.
148:14 Has lifted high the horn of his people: the horn symbolizes strength, the concrete
noun for the abstract. Of all peoples, God has chosen Israel to return praise and thanks
in a special way.