My child, if sinners entice you, turn your back on them! They may say, “Come and join us. Let’s hide and kill someone! Just for fun, let’s ambush the innocent! Let’s swallow them alive, like the grave; let’s swallow them whole, like those who go down to the pit of death. Think of the great things we’ll get! We’ll fill our houses with all the stuff we take. Come, throw in your lot with us; we’ll all share the loot.” My child, don’t go along with them! Stay far away from their paths. They rush to commit evil deeds. They hurry to commit murder. If a bird sees a trap being set, it knows to stay away. But these people set an ambush for themselves; they are trying to get themselves killed. Such is the fate of all who are greedy for money; it robs them of life.
Dear God, I was reading in Proverbs the other day (I think it was chapter 15, and I did a prayer journal on it), and I started wondering what patterns I might be able to see if I were to take each verse in a chapter, put it into a category and then reorganize the verses into their categories. Would there be any value to seeing all of the “like” verses put together in sequence? Would there be any new understandings revealed to me?
I sat down this morning with chapter 1, and I found it wasn’t like some of the other chapters. It is actually a little more thematic and a little less “fortune cookie-ish.” It talked about pursuing wisdom, heeding parents’ instruction, avoiding bad influences, and shunning the foolishness of being willful and stubborn. It made me think of a sermon I listened to this morning from Andy Stanley. He talked about following you instead of just believing in you. He talked about being with people who draw us deeper into our walk with you–who do not draw us away from following you.
In Proverbs 1:10-19, Solomon gives an extreme example of sinners enticing believers, but I think the same is true even if the enticement isn’t quite as extreme as the murder plot Solomon describes. If I believe that the life I am supposed to live is a life full of humility before my creator and extending that same mercy to others, then how can I survive being influenced by people who believe that they are their own gods and their own will is what life is about? How will that work in friendship? How will that work in a romantic relationship? How will that work in any area of life. While we need to be in the world and have relationships that challenge us and allow us to challenge them, we have to be careful to make our core support those who are like-minded.
Father, I don’t know if I’ll do anything with this Proverbs project or not. I still need to finish my “Mothers of the Bible” and “Fathers of the Bible” projects. And I feel like those are important. But maybe if I spend some time in Proverbs as well, I can be reminded of the third dimension of our lives that is found in the wisdom you admonish us to pursue.
In Jesus’s name I pray,