Righteousness and Wickedness
In the old testament, and even today for practicing Jews, the ten commandments are the pillar of Jewish life, expanded on in the Pentateuch, into things that Jews could or could not do.
The ten commandments are catechetical (religious teaching by questions and answers, rather than law), as it does not come with punishments. Moses expanded on the commandments by giving finer detail of punishments in the Pentateuch. If you would be interested in a further exposition of the commandments as related to the Pentateuch, please click here TEN COMMANDMENTS EXPOUNDED UPON.
For us as Christians this is taken further into the teachings of Christ, and the various promises he makes for those that choose to follow him and those that fail to answer his call. In a nutshell we show reverence and divine fear for our creator by following his commandments.
If you do not fear the Lord and thus ignore what he commands, then it’s unlikely that you will inculcate what the Proverbs teach. The starting point is divine fear and divine reverence, linked largely to how we perceive the afterlife, and if following a biblical perspective, where in the afterlife we would like to end up.
Imagine an all seeing eye that follows your every action, utterance and thought from birth to death and thereafter a judgement of every utterance, action and thought. It is a realization that such a moment will come, that leads to divine reverence and fear. If all human beings would follow this line of thinking, I estimate that the world would be a very different place indeed; certainly better in every respect.
This small book on bible proverbs Wisdom is a summary of academic lectures given by Dr Bruce Waltke (on the Biblical Training Institute website). I have tried to give it my own flavour and flow, but the original thoughts are his and indeed now mine as well.
Chapter 1- Righteousness and Wickedness
Bible Proverbs were initially written for nobility, or if you prefer royalty, namely those that would naturally grow into positions of authority over the population. The covenant community would need just judges and rulers; frankly as would any community on the face of the earth.
While this book addresses the bible community, many of the proverbs were copied from other writings e.g Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian etc and moulded for the Jewish world view. In the former, the teaching was largely to administrators of the states or empires, while amongst the Israelites, the teaching was available to the whole community.
The covenant community is seeking holiness to set itself apart from the rest of the world and identifying itself with God, and thus God like qualities. In this regard, terms which we hear regularly take on certain meaning worth reflecting on.
Righteousness: To disadvantage yourself in order to advantage another
This does not mean giving away your living and disadvantaging your family, loved ones or dependents. It means acting with discernment, while sacrificing what could easily be your advantage.
- I choose to pay more than what we agreed, simply because I can
- I overlook a slight even when I am both justified and have the wherewithal to hit back ferociously and effectively
- To be humiliated even when I know I have the power to retaliate
In a sense, justice looks at the heart, where God can see the sacrifice and men cannot.
Wickedness: To disadvantage another for your own benefit
- You can apply this to the more obvious sins like murder and adultery, but also to the less direct sins of encouraging people to vice for example adverts that lead to sins of the flesh e.g gluttony, drunkenness, covetousness, betting etc.
- It also includes greed that is designed to amass at the expense of others, where there is absolutely no reason to do so, other than reckless competition for personal gain, even if it means destroying families and nations at large. It becomes an endless cycle of vicious greed and wickedness.
Why are we incapable or remembering that we are only here for a short while, and it is the growth of the spirit that matters most, and not the satisfaction of our physical wants.
As you think about it, you begin to realize that there are many things we do for personal aggrandizement that are completely unnecessary and can be viewed as wicked in the divine realm, due to its effects on others. Is it worth risking the wrath of the divine realm?
The proverbs sets boundaries in regards to how we live; whose company we keep and how we behave. To be blunt, a life of easy sex (no commitments), easy money (money with little or no work) and a lifestyle dedicated to the self are highly discouraged.
The book advocates for the development of the physical and spiritual self through hard work, commitment and love and service to God and neighbor above self.
The bible proverbs are for the worlds uncommitted, open to anything. Modern teaching suggests that its prejudicial to have an opinion or world view; we should be open to everything and accepting of everyone. There are no absolute truths and everyone follows his or her own path, and a reasonable citizen of the world should be respectful of all opinions. This, based on the last two thousand years, is untrue.
This phenomenon is called relativism is a relatively new concept in the modern age (the idea of no absolute truths), that has seen a corruption in previously held values and systems, leading to a breakdown in modern day societies where money and brawn has replaced intelligent thinking and proper analysis.
The abundance of sin in the world is due to this kind of thinking; there is no bulwark to sin and thus it simply cascades and permeates through society.
Wisdom comes from on high and it only remains for as long as one serves God through fear and reverence and continuous study of his word. The second we stop any of these activities, wisdom slowly starts to depart. The wisest man in the world (Solomon, son of David), and a significant contributor to the wisdom genre in the bible, died a fool due to departing from the ways of the Lord.
A material sluggard, namely one who takes his eye off the ball, becoming lazy and not attending to his needs will become poor. The same for spiritual knowledge. You stop feeding it, and the way of the world, the flesh and the devil will eventually overwhelm you; subtly at first, but it is systematic subtleness.
You must commit yourself to a side. If there is any tension between the world and Christ, Christ and the proverbs win every single time; this is what making a decision is about. The uncommitted, who sit on a fence are lukewarm guided by senses and not heaven; as a consequence, they are flung around like rag dolls by the ruler of the earth, who prowls the earth roaring and looking for prey.
Wisdom in Bible Proverbs is personified as a woman, shouting at the city gates trying to entice the simple, those that are uncommitted. They are addressed by woman wisdom and woman folly. This represents the tension of two world views; one spiritual and eternal, the other terrestrial and carnal.
The purpose of the book is to receive instruction in prudence, righteousness, justice and equity; also known as the CARDINAL VIRTUES (CLICK FOR MORE).
Proverbs is also about overcoming one’s personal limitations and living according to the spirit of wisdom; the following demonstrates this well; On overcoming personal limitations Proverbs 30:24-28 Agur a wise man mentions four weak creatures that seem to thrive despite their obvious limitations; The hyrax or rock badger, the house lizard, locusts and ants (creatures with hardly any strength or intelligence). Proverbs is not about animals, but the world of men and where we hope to ascend to in the afterlife. So the analogy is about types of people, who are able to achieve much despite their limitations.
Hyrax- Live in crags on cliffs to avoid their natural prey, snakes and eagles. Wisdom will naturally provide you protection, if you accustom yourself to constant reading and thus being directed by it.
Ants- Despite their size organize themselves, storing in plenty for the winter. Wisdom is clear about the need to sow and reap. The straight analogy is sow in spring, reap in summer and store for the winter. A wider analogy is that of youthfulness and old age. You sow when young and reap and store for old age and for your dependants. Planning is a part and parcel of wise living.
Locusts- Despite not having a leader, advance in ranks; they see the natural need for organisation. While men act disparately, the character and actions of those that trust wisdom literature is similar, almost like an army with an invisible leader; in this case, the God who created us and has taught us to walk the straight and narrow.
Lizards- Their small size does not deny them the opportunity to live among royalty (or at least in abodes that are not of their own making). The high and mighty enjoy the company of those that are wise and thoughtful. The more one exposes himself to wisdom, the more likely that people will gravitate towards you. One must keep up a constant effort to absorb and understand wisdom literature.
The wisdom suggests that for as long as you stock up on God’s word, you will develop the necessary reserves to guide you through times of happiness and abundance, times of temptation and times of tribulation and suffering. I have personally found this to be very true.
In hard times you find yourself reflecting on the teachings of Christ and the bible in general; there is always a lesson for every situation; thus preventing us from stumbling and losing hope. The teachings of bible proverbs emphasize our mortality and thus eventual reliance on Christ. Proverbs gives us the knowledge to live a supernatural life while still on earth.
This post first appeared on Sayings Of The Wise: Bible Proverbs For Success, please read the originial post: here