Proverbs 1:1-7 (NIV)
Purpose and Theme
1 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:
2 for gaining wisdom and instruction;
for understanding words of insight;
3 for receiving instruction in prudent behavior,
doing what is right and just and fair;
4 for giving prudence to those who are simple,[a]
knowledge and discretion to the young—
5 let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance—
6 for understanding proverbs and parables,
the sayings and riddles of the wise.[b]
7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools[c] despise wisdom and instruction.
You’ve heard the old joke….’The first thing I do each day is read the death notices in the paper and if my name isn’t there it’s a good day. The start of a New Year, promises much and before we get carried away with resolutions, perhaps we need to simply ask that God will go with us each and every day and while we might make plans, it will be he who decides our steps, for as Proverbs 16:9 reminds us, In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.
Today we begin Proverbs and we will have much to learn. Proverbs are more than simply proverbs and can have a range of applications. They can be a prophetic oracle (wise statement or prediction), an object lesson, a saying, a poetic discourse, always something much more intense, vigorous and provocative than a straightforward saying.
They are often written in a puzzling form to encourage the reader to think. The authority of Solomon presides over their wisdom. These seven verses list the terms for wisdom. They include know how or cleverness, discipline or instruction, rebuke or reproof, which often accompany instruction and the ability to analyse, to see behind things and make decisions in the light this. This is linked with a prudent life, shrewdness and knowledge. We learn that learning and decision making do not operate on their own but go together with a moral perspective. This is based upon the ‘fear of the Lord’. Unless you see God behind all things you cannot make sense.
So, the start of a new year let us at least resolve to seek these things.
Galatians 1:1-9 (NIV)
1 Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2 and all the brothers and sisters[a] with me,
To the churches in Galatia:
3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
No Other Gospel
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!
The Galatians passage is an interesting part of scripture. Paul makes his opening in very bare terms. The Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians are addressed as ‘God’s holy people’ and in addition the Colossians are spoken of as ‘faithful brothers and sisters. Paul thanks God for the Thessalonians who are ‘continually mentioned in Paul’s prayers’. Philemon is addressed as a ‘dear friend and fellow worker’. What do the Galatians receive, a lesson in theology?
Paul immediately informs them that he bears the divine appointment and imprimatur of Jesus Christ and God the father. The theologically charged verse 4 gives warning of what is to follow.
The rebuke of v6 sets the tone of this serious and urgent letter. What have they done to merit this? Simply put, they are abandoning the gospel of grace, the one who graciously called them to himself. The background is that Jewish Christians had been attempting to Judaize the Gentile converts.
Paul does not mince his words, verses 6-9 make clear what has been going on and what should be the fate of those who perpetrate such teaching.
I sometimes hear of churches in the local area who have passionate advocates and seem to be doing much good work. Then I hear of sometimes small but telling qualifications in their theology that are a great worry. Teaching that is not in accordance with scripture is not teaching at all. Let us be vigilant this year that we read and know our bibles, that we are faithful and regular in our prayer and worship. That we read our Faithful Daily Read. That we extend hospitality and show mercy and grace. The end result being that when people look at us they glimpse Jesus. They see a people won to the Kingdom Of God.
Have a good one and God bless!
(Image from Swellnet)