Solomon’s Purpose

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Last week we began our adventure into Proverbs. We found out how Solomon came to be king of Israel and we discovered how he came to be so wise. As I said last week, I encourage you to read one chapter of Proverbs each and every day of the month. This morning we’ll find out why Solomon, through the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, put these proverbs together.

Take the time to grab your Bible and read Pro. 1:2-6.

If you take even a quick glance, you’ll discover it doesn’t take long for Solomon to get to the point. He says we are, “To know wisdom and instruction.” As we established last week, Solomon was the wisest man to ever live. God gave Solomon the wisdom he asked for. Godly wisdom enables us to see the world through His eyes. That wisdom is increasingly unheard of today. What was common sense in the past no longer is today. I think there are a number of reasons that we could attribute that to, but I think the predominant one is that we have continued to deviate from the standard of Scripture. What was once taught in the home, is now outsourced to others. When I was growing up, kindergarten was optional. Now we have parents getting their kids in “school” while they’re still very young. Now don’t go getting all crazy on me, I know that moms may have to work to support themselves, but that’s a symptom of the real issue. We’ve deviated from the biblical standards of morality and ethics. Just because something is culturally acceptable does not make it biblical.

Freedictionary.com says wisdom is the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting. This lines up with what Solomon asked God for. So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil.” (1 Ki. 3:9) So if you’re going to determine what is right or wrong, good or evil, you must have a standard of determination. It must be unchanging; it must be divinely inspired, it must be accurate, it must be available. All of these are available in the copy of God’s Word you hold in your hand. Solomon says we can know wisdom. The word know is the same word that means grasp or ascertain that is used in the New Testament. This is the Hebrew form of the word while the N.T. uses the Greek. His use of the word, “know” indicates this wisdom should be common among people who follow Christ. We can, “Discern the sayings of understanding, to receive instruction in wise behavior, righteousness, justice, and equity.” This is what the Holy Spirit through Solomon’s words offer to us. Deut. 4:6 says, “So keep and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’”  The “them” in this verse refers to the statutes and judgments from the previous verse.

So who’s Solomon writing to? His target audience is found in vs. 4-5. There are four target groups Solomon is thinking about as he writes. First there are the naïve. In this passage, naïve means simple ones, it means gullible. They’ll believe anything they hear. When it comes to wisdom, this can be very dangerous particularly when someone tells you something contrary to Scripture.

Second and way more difficult is, “To the youth knowledge and discretion.” That is something seriously lacking in people today. In this context, the term youth identifies anyone between childhood and adulthood. That’s a fairly broad age gap. Have you heard the saying, 30 is the new 20? Basically, life for the typical 30 year old is like that of a 20 year old in yesteryear. Some of that is driven by our economic state. A survey conducted last year revealed 38% of parents had grown children living in the home. In the last half century, pollster Jeffrey Arnett says a new life stage has developed he calls emerging adults. These emerging adults may fall into this category, but Solomon is targeting young and inexperienced people because they typically have no plan. Discretion here refers to the ability to form a plan so that goals can be pursued and achieved. One of the difficulties in the naïve and the young is they often don’t recognize their need for wisdom.

Third is, “A wise man will hear and increase in learning.” Wise people recognize they don’t know everything and continue to learn – they’re teachable. As you mature and move through life, you gain new insight that goes along with experience.

Fourth is, “a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel.” That wise man seeks the counsel of other wiser, more experienced people. Pro. 14:12 says, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” The man of understanding doesn’t follow his own guidance, he asks! If you look carefully at the four groups, clearly anyone and everyone can benefit from the wisdom contained in this book.

Here’s the conclusion to Solomon’s introduction. He has given us the tools to be successful in life. After all that’s his goal. In Solomon’s mind, if we do one thing, we’ll be good. If we simply follow the wisdom of God, everything else will fall into place. The conclusion comes in v. 6, To understand a proverb and a figure, the words of the wise and their riddles.” This sounds sort of like a riddle itself. We really love riddles. There are millions of riddle sites online. There are riddles contained in Scripture. Read about Samson, he loved riddles. Solomon is not talking about silly riddles that entertain or trick someone. He’s talking about the riddles or mysteries of life. Biblical wisdom seeks to eliminate the gray areas of life. But we’ll need the help of God to understand it. Paul told us that, “A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.” (1 Cor. 2:14) We need the help of the Holy Spirit.

Solomon’s goal is to impart his wisdom, wisdom received from God, to us. All we have to do is follow it. It sounds simple enough, until we’re faced with our own will. The wise man lays aside what he thinks in favor of the truth found in God’s Word.

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Peter’s Shift in Age

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Last week Peter spoke of the elder as overseer and he talked about the nature of the elder. Elders are examples not just to God’s people, but to people everywhere. This week Peter closes out this section by speaking to younger men.

1 Peter 5:5-7 says, You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”

Peter shifts from speaking about elders to the younger men, but what does younger mean? Some people get really hung on this phrase. Remember that Peter is writing to believers scattered across Asia. In 5:1 he speaks directly to the elders among the church. In light of this, it is likely that Peter is speaking to the younger men among the people as a specific age group. Why would Peter call out young men? The answer comes from what he says next. He says, “You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders.” Likewise – just like everyone else in the congregation. It’s a reminder to the younger men. Why them? Think about the young men you know. As a rule, are they compliant? This isn’t the first time Peter mentions the idea of submitting to authority. In 2:13, he told us to submit to every human institution. In 2:18, he told servants to submit to their masters whether they were good and gentle or unreasonable. In 3:1 and 5 he told wives to be submissive to their own husbands. The idea of submitting to others is not new. But it’s the younger men in particular that Peter reminds to submit to those in authority. There seems to be a rebellious streak in young men that may not be as prevalent in young women and Peter wants to be firm in his reminder to submit to those in authority. But it’s not blind obedience for any follower. We saw earlier that Peter told leaders not to use their authority as dictators. If teaching or guidance is given that is contrary to God’s Word, it shouldn’t be followed. At the same time, people should be inclined to follow the leadership and submit to their authority and not complain about everything that goes on.

Now Peter shifts again. “And all of you.” If there’s any doubt, he includes the entire congregation scattered about. “Those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.” (1 Pet. 1:1) Everyone who is reading this letter, who is having this letter read to them. “And all of you clothe yourself with humility.”  Smooth relations will exist in the church if we have a spirit of humility. If we simply have the attitude that everyone is important, things will be smooth. If we have the attitude that we’re all on a journey of discipleship, we’ll get along just fine. Problems can arise when someone wants to exercise some kind of power over another, or wants to dictate how something must be done, or gets upset if their idea isn’t adopted or supported. The foundation of Peter’s challenge is found in Prov. 3:34: Though He scoffs at the scoffers, yet He gives grace to the afflicted.” James quotes the same proverb in 4:6 of his letter. God is against the proud. It’s as simple as that.

Peter’s concludes by saying, “Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your cares on Him because He cares for you.” Let’s look at the first phrase. The “therefore” is there to tell us that since God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble, we need to be humble. When we humble ourselves, we’ll experience God’s grace. We know contextually that believers are suffering through trials and persecutions and afflictions for their faith in Jesus who is the Christ. Believers are challenged to persevere regardless of their circumstances. We need to accept the suffering that God allows in our lives as part of His plan for our purification that Peter spoke of in 1 Pet. 4:7. He will lift you up at the proper time. When is that time? It may not be in this world, but we’re under God’s mighty hand.

The second phrase is one of the most often quoted verses in times of trouble. All you have to do, troubled Christian, is throw the cares or worries of this would to the Lord. It’s that simple! But too often, those words are hollow reminders of our inadequacy and we continue to worry over matters that are beyond our control because no one ever told us HOW to do that. Cast is a verb – an action word and it’s connected to the phrase humble yourselves. It tells us how to actually cast all your cares on Him. Here’s the relationship between the two. Believers humble themselves by casting their worries on God. If we continue to worry, then we are giving in to pride. How can anxiety and worry be characterized as pride? No one would argue that at the very least, worry could be a lack of faith, but pride? When we worry – also a verb – we’re convinced that we must do something to fix or control a situation. We’re trusting in ourselves. When we throw our worries to God, we acknowledge our trust in Him. We acknowledging that God is Lord and He is sovereign over everything. Peter knows the church is suffering; he knows they are under persecution and affliction. Casting your worries on God wouldn’t bring comfort if God wasn’t able to provide help in time of need. You wouldn’t tell someone your troubles or concerns that’s apathetic, cold hearted, or cruel. You wouldn’t do that because they don’t care. Giving your worry to God makes great sense, “Because He cares for you.” God is not indifferent and He’s not cruel. He has compassion on his children and will sustain them in every distress. Ps. 55:22, “Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” Affliction and trials will either drive you into the loving arms of God or will separate you from God. You think Peter doesn’t know a thing or two about pride? Peter told Jesus in Matt. 26:3, “Even if I have to die with you, I will not deny you.” I’m sure Peter’s pride haunted him.

Regardless of your affliction or trials, God really does care for you. When you trust Him, you acknowledge His mighty hand, His power, His strength, and His sovereignty. When we humble ourselves before Him, it opens the floodgates for His grace to pour down on us.