Friday, 3 August 2012

Things about Proverbs, I researched / prepared, but won't use in Sunday's Sermon

The book of Proverbs isn't a self-help book for the masses, it isn't a "Live Well for Dummies" manual. It was a "passing the baton" text. We see a father instructing his son on how to be man. We get to listen in on the advice given.

More than that it is a kingly father addressing his princely son, preparing him to reign over a kingdom.

This is the filter we must pass everything we read in Proverbs through before we apply it our own lives.  We all exercise some kind of authority, even if it's only over our own shoe laces, but not all of us will be kings! Rightly applying the wise words of this book is a work of wisdom in itself!

For example, in the first chapter, Solomon tells his son not to go off with worthless men and take advantage of people.

Why so?

Well, because being the king's son, he could do what he liked and get away with it - disappearing off of an evening with some horses and men throwing his weight around and causing trouble e.g. stealing things, drinking, ravishing women etc, all the while being above the law. Who is going to challenge him, without the fear of becoming public enemy no.1 and having their head lifted off their shoulders?

You and I could have a go at that kind of behaviour today, but we would soon experience the long arm of the law. So the issue for Solomon's son is when he is made king and becomes the highest authority in the land, how will he use his new found power?

For most of use the equivalent application would be "don't get in with the wrong crowd" and we can get there without the donkey work I just described, but if we miss the authorial intent, we miss a deeper and fuller application on multiple levels.

As children, we had no authority, we lived by rules, our parents constantly taught and retaught us "do this... don't do that." We learned the order of things, the basic way that relationships function. Everything was simple, black and white. We didn't have to think - we just did stuff.

When we hit maturity, we realised that life is more complex, and started to move in shades of grey - this is where wisdom is needed. When the rule book you were given as a child doesn't specify what to do for the instance in front of you. Wisdom isn't rules, it's about applying what you know to be true to a new situation without squeezing the new situation into the narrowly defined lines of your old patterns of thought.

Every king must choose his queen. Will he choose a queen who will lead him into folly or one who will lead him into wisdom?  Solomon on this count scored nul points!

The ladies we see in Proverbs, reappear later in Revelation, they are the same, their call is the same.  One calls the world to self-seeking pleasure and death, the other to wisdom and life.

Solomon's track record with instructing his own son was not a success story.  Rehoboam was an idiot and only a prophetic word from the LORD stopped him from plunging the whole nation into the bloody massacre of a civil war.

However, his great descendent, Jesus, was a wise son - wiser than any who have ever been and he now reigns in Heaven, pouring out his love and wisdom to all who call on him.