Inside the Houses of Wisdom and Folly (Wed. March 31)

The word of the day is “folly.”  Yesterday, we heard Wisdom’s summons to her banquet.  Today, in our reading of Proverbs 9:12-18, we hear a corresponding invitation of a foolish woman.  This woman whom we will call “Folly,” calls out to all who pass by, “Whoever is simple let him turn in here” (NKJV vs. 16).  Today we will contrast the appeals of these two representatives of wisdom and foolishness and the consequences of answering each. The Enticements of Wisdom and Folly Both Wisdom and Folly offer enticements to visit them.  Wisdom sends out her maidens with the invitation to “turn aside to me” (OSB 9:4.   Likewise, Folly sits at the highest places of the city  and cries out with…

How to Receive the Wisdom That God Gives (Tues. March 30)

The word of the day is “holy.”  Most think that Proverbs is a book of practical wisdom that teaches us how to get along in this world.  But what is the difference between the pragmatic advice of teachers of this world and the counsel of the wise sage of Proverbs?  In today’s reading of Proverbs 8:32-9:11, we find that the wisdom of Proverbs is grounded in what is holy, not in what is earthly.  The sage writes, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (NKJV vs. 9:10).  Today we discover the understanding and actions that are necessary to us to acquire the heavenly wisdom whose source is God. Ordinary Insight Ordinary…

How to Make Wise Choices: Prudence (Mon. March 29)

The word of the day is “prudence.”  At times, we face the uncertainty of what to do.  How do we know what course of action is in line with the will of God?  Today we read  Proverbs 8:-21.  In this passage,  we find that the way to choose the right path is to use the wisdom of prudence.  The wise sage writes, “I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge and discretion” (NKJV vs. 12).  Today, our topic is the virtue of good judgment, that is, prudence. The word “prudence” has changed in both use and definition.  The term comes from the 13th century.  But it has gradually fallen to misuse, as we can see from the frequency that…

The Word of Salvation, Not the Words of Angels (Sun. March 28)

The word of the day is “angels.”  So many voices are shouting at us these days that we are bound to distrust, discount, distrust, and disregard them all.  But do the words of the Lord also get lost amidst all the messages that assail us?  Today in our reading of Hebrews 1:10-2:3, the apostle compares the word of angels with the Word of the Lord.  He writes, “If the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord” (NKJV 2:2-4).  Today’s reading gives us reason to pay careful attention to “every word…

Beware of Over-Confidence (Sat. March 27)

The word of the day is “beware.”  “An evil heart of unbelief:” who among us would admit that we are susceptible to having such a hardened heart (OSB vs. 12-13)?  After all, we are members of the Body of Christ and are “partakers of Christ’s nature” (OSB vs. 14).  But in our reading of Hebrews 3:12-16, the apostle warns about possessing a heart that has “departed from the living God” (OSB vs. 12).  He writes, “Beware,.. lest anyone of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (OSB vs. 13). We Can Possess and Lose It Our reading today warns against over-confidence.  False assurance treats faith as a permanent possession, something that cannot be taken away from us.  Yes, we…

How To Fight the Fires of the Passions with Fire (Fri. March 26)

The word of the day is “burn.”  Today in our reading of Proverbs 6:20-7:1, we hear a graphic bit of wisdom, “Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? (NKJV vs. 27). We shudder at the thought.  We feel the fiery heat burning through our clothing into our chest.  We smell the searing flesh.  We feel the pain of a thousand knives slicing into our tender body. Who would do such a thing?  The wise sage of Proverbs observes that getting involved in an adulterous affair is like clutching live coals to our chest.  Those who commit adultery, the sage promises, will be severely burned.  Adulterers will earn  “wounds and dishonor,” “reproach that will…

How to Wake Up from the Slumber of Sloth (Thurs. March 25)

Feast of the Annunciation The word of the day is “slumber.”  Most have times when the fervor of the faith dies down, and we find that we are just going through the motions of religious practice.  In those times of spiritual lethargy, we are sleepwalking in the Spirit.  Today’s reading of Proverbs 6:3-20 includes a warning against the lethargy that rests and sleeps when it is time for activity and work. The sage writes, “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep so shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man” (NKJV vs. 10).  Today, we will apply this admonition to the spiritual vice of “sloth.” …

Why Nothing We Say and Do is Insignificant (Wed. March 24)

The word of the day is “eyes.”  We attribute importance to the events which advance the course of the world’s history.  And we count the occasions of births, graduations, weddings, and funerals as having special meaning.  But do the seemingly trivial moments of our lives have any lasting significance?  Does what we say and do on ordinary days count for anything?  In our reading of Proverbs 5:15-6:3, the wise poet  teaches that the Almighty sees all we do from day to day.  Nothing escapes His scrutiny.  The sage writes, “For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He ponders all his paths” (NKJV vs. 2).  Today we consider what it means for God to see…

Water from Our Own Wells: Healing Envy and Covetousness (Tues. March 23)

The word of the day is “cistern.”[i]  In today’s reading of Proverbs 5:1-15, the sage warns against the seduction of loose women and urges the chastity of a faithful marriage.  But to picture his counsel, he uses a striking image, “Drink water from your own cisterns and running water from your own well” (NKJV vs. 15).  There is no reason to draw water from someone else’s supply when we have our own. Of course, that applies to sexual relationships. But like so many folk sayings the maxim  has a wider application.   Today we will look at covetousness and envy as overweening desires for the possessions of others. The Social Context of Covetousness and Envy Covetousness is such a serious a…

How To Read Proverbs as Poetry (Mon. March 22)

The word of the day is “but.”  Almost all people thrive when there is order in society, but hardly anyone can prosper when chaos rules.  We naturally seek balance and equilibrium and consider harmony to be beautiful, right, and true.   Today in our reading of Proverbs 3:21-4:7  we find that symmetry is built into the structure of the sayings of wisdom.  For example, our reading begins, “Surely He [God] scorns the scornful” (vs. 3:34).  Here we discover a basic underlying sense of justice.  It is only right that those who scoff at others will themselves be scoffed (Strong’s #3887, 191).  Today we will analyze some selected sayings of our reading to illustrate this sense of righteousness.  Then we will reflect…