I recently set up an account with my favorite name website, NameBerry. For me, it’s almost as potentially addictive as Pinterest — I could spend hours browsing names, interacting with other writers, and discussing the best names for other people’s children. One of the forum topics I stumbled across last week was about favorite names from each letter of the alphabet.
When I tried to fill out the alphabet chart, there were some letters (A, C, and S) that were hard to narrow down to just one name each for boys and girls. Other letters (O and U), I had hard time finding anything I liked or would actually use even on a fictional person. It was fun, though, and I decided to share it here as well as on that site.
I’ve mentioned my name obsession before, along with a few of my favorite names. This list is longer, and includes a few that I like the sound of more than the meaning. The two that aren’t linked to NameBerry or another website are from fantasy stories. Brigan is my favorite character from Kristian Cashore’s bookFire, and while it is used as a last name there doesn’t appear to be a distinct meaning. Faramir is from Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings and means “sufficient jewel” or “jeweled hunter” in Elvish.
As I continue my study of Proverbs, I keep finding more and more to put on my favorites list. Last week, I shared five favorites from the first 10 chapters of Proverbs. Here are my top five from chapters 11 through 20.
I’m having a hard enough time narrowing it down to five verses for every 10 chapters — I’m not sure how I’ll settle on just one favorite for our study discussion next month. Perhaps I’ll bring a list roughly organized by which one I want to talk about most, and then cross-off any that someone mentions before I do.
A gracious woman retains honor, but ruthless men retain riches. (Prov. 11:16)
It is for the first half of this verse that I have included it here. Ever since my career adviser at OSU told me I was very gracious in the way I responded when she had to take a phone call while we were meeting, I’ve paid extra attention to verses like this. I liked how it felt to be considered gracious — it was a description I’ve always thought held value, but this was the first time someone applied it to me. I want to be a grace-filled woman, and I hope to give people that impression of me.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life. (Prov. 13:12)
There are many hopes I have that have been deferred (marriage and a family of my own, to name one). I have to believe, though, that God does not want to make our hearts sick. Therefore, when our hopes are deferred, it must be for a good reason. Perhaps it is to teach us to trust Him long-term — if all our hopes were fulfilled instantly I doubt we would appreciate His gifts very much. Psalm 37 says if we delight in the Lord, “He shall give you the desires of your heart.” If we trust in Him and commit lives to following Him, He will bring about our desires (Ps. 37:4-5). God wants to give us good things. He wants us to be delighted.
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Prov. 15:1)
A cross reference in my study Bible gives an example of this in Judges 8:1-3. The men of Ephraim were chiding Gideon sharply for not calling them to fight with him against Midian. Instead of answering them in kind, he diplomatically diffused the situation and “their anger toward him subsided.” The flip side of this principle, of course, is that being snappish and peevish stirs up an angry response in others and leads to escalating arguments. We need to be moving toward peace instead of anger. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” Christ said, “for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9).
Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established. (Prov. 16:3)
I find it interesting that in this verse, it says your “thoughts will be established.” Related verses talk about God establishing our ways and caring for our wants, but this one focuses on the state of our minds. It is like Philippians 4:6-9 in a single verse.
He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit. Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding. (Prov. 17:27-28)
How little we value the skill and gift of quietness in today’s society. Words fitly spoken are beautiful (Prov. 25:11), but there are also many times when it is more beautiful to be “swift to hear, slow to speak” (James 1:19).
For our ladies’ book club next month at church, while people are getting caught-up on finding and reading the next book, we are studying Proverbs. This was inspired by the author of our last book, Liz Curtis Higgs, who is working through a 50 Favorite Proverbs Bible study on her blog. We’re each planning to bring a single Proverb to the group and talk about it. I’ve been preparing for this by reading Proverbs, and I’ve already found many more favorite proverbs than just one. Since I can’t take them all to our book club, I’ve decided to blog about them. I’ve selected five from the first ten chapters of Proverbs to share here.
In other news, my father has started a blog called Baptism For Life. If you like my Christian posts every Saturday, you’ll probably like his writings.
Turn at my rebuke; surely I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you. (Prov. 1:23)
This is wisdom personified and speaking, but I think from the way it is written (and the fact that, as scripture, it is inspired by Him) we can attribute these words to God. It is a promise, and a call to repentance. If we turn when we hear His reproof, instead of ignoring Him, He will pour out His spirit on us and teach us by revelation.
But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, and will be secure, without fear of evil.” (Prov. 1:33)
This is a comforting reassurance of God’s protection for those who serve him — both to give them safety and to guard them from anxiety. Psalm 112:7 says, “He will not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” It is not necessarily that we will be protected from every bad thing, but a promise that God will be there for us through every thing. His peace “will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7).
Do not be afraid of sudden terror, nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes; for the Lord will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught. (Prov. 3:25-26)
I’ve always been partial to, and comforted by, the “do not fear verses.” I struggle with fear and anxiety, but it comforts me beyond measure to know that I can turn that fear over to my Protector, who is the most powerful Being in existence. His is our confidence, and no one is able to take us out of His hands (John 10:28-29).
My son, keep your father’s command, and do not forsake the law of your mother. Bind them continually upon your heart; tie them around your neck. When you roam, they will lead you; when you sleep, they will keep you; and when you awake, they will speak with you. (Prov. 6:20-22)
As Liz Curtix Higgs said when writing about Proverbs 3:3 (which I would list as a favorite, but she covered it thoroughly in her post), we need to keep God’s words close to us. We need to read and study the Bible, continually binding it to our hearts, fall asleep with God’s words in our minds, and wake to let Him talk to us again. We might, as she also suggested, quite literally wear them around our necks.
Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins. (Prov. 10:12)
When I read this verse, I wondered why it wasn’t the first thing that came to mind when I thought of favorite Proverbs. The conditions of our heart spill out into our lives, either to stir up strife or to promote peace. When Peter quotes this proverb, he says “above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins'” (1 Pet. 4:8). This, along with 1 Corinthians 13, express how very important love is — “above all things.” We must be on guard that our lives are expressions of love that covers sin and promotes peace, rather than expressions of hatred that leads to discord.
What are some of your favorite Proverbs? Why do those verses speak to you?