Another 5 Favorite Proverbs

Another Five Favorite Proverbs by marissabaker.wordpress.comI’ve finished making my way through a study of Proverbs, in preparation for my church’s women’s group discussion about favorite proverbs that is taking place this afternoon. My first post covered five proverbs from chapters 1-10, the second covered five from chapters 11-20, and this last post is for chapters 21-31. I still haven’t decided which of these 15 is my favorite, but at least I’ve narrowed it down to 15.

11: Reputation

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold. (Prov. 22:1)

I just heard a sermonette last week about God giving people names with meanings that fit the roles He designated them for — Jesus = savior; Paul = small; Peter = a little stone; Abraham = father of a multitude. From what I understand, names in Hebrew thought are inseparable from the essence, character, and reputation of a person. Therefore, it is better to have a good reputation, a name worthy of respect, than to have great riches.  The word for “favor,” which is described as better than silver and gold, is from the word chen (H2580), and it means “favor, kindness, grace, loveliness, charm, preciousness.”

12: Deliverance

For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity. (Prov. 24:16)

It doesn’t promise that if you are a just person you will never fall — it says you will be able to get back up rather than fall deeper into mischief. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous,” David said, “but the Lord delivers him out of them all” (Ps. 34:19). If — when — we fall, we  can be assured that God is holding our hand and will help pick us back up (Ps. 37:24).

13: Friends

Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. (Prov. 27:6)

King Lear would have been a very different play had the titular character been heeding this advice. When a friend wounds you, it is generally 1) an accident, or 2) with a view to your good. David wrote, “Let the righteous strike me; it shall be a kindness. And let him rebuke me; it shall be as excellent oil; let my head not refuse it” (Ps. 141.5). It might make us angry at first, but if we are honest with ourselves, we can often see that we were reproved out of love, and that we become better people with a stronger friendship as a result. In contrast, listening to the flattering words of those who secretly seek our hurt can only lead to grief.

14: Guardrail

Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. (Prov. 30:5)

“The Guardrail,” from joyfultoons.com

Here we leave Solomon’s proverbs and read “the words of Agur the son of Jakeh” (Prov. 30:1). This is a two-fold promise. Firstly, that God’s words are free of imperfections. As such, it is all profitable and no part should be ignored or neglected (2 Tim. 3:16). Secondly, that the Lord shields those who trust in Him. This was a frequent subject in Psalms, such as “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Ps. 84:11). Connecting these two points is the fact that God’s commands are designed to protect us, as illustrated by this comic I saw on Facebook the other day.

15: Beauty

Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. (Prov. 31:30)

This is from the end of the virtuous woman passage contained in “words of King Lemuel, the utterance which his mother taught him” (Prov. 31:1). When I was younger, I latched on to this verse as a substitute for my perceived lack of beauty — if I couldn’t be pretty, I could at least fear God and earn praise that way. As I’ve become more comfortable with myself and more mature as a Christian, my views on this verse have changed. I concentrate more on the last half of the verse, asking “How can I be a woman who fears the Lord?”

Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel — rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. (! Pet. 3:3-4)

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Five More Favorite Proverbs

Five More Favorite Proverbs by marissabaker.wordpress.comAs 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.

6: Graciousness

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.

7: Desire

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.

8: Peace

Five More Favorite Proverbs by marissabaker.wordpress.comA 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).

9: Thoughts

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.

10: Quiet

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).

Five Favorite Proverbs

Five Favorite Proverbs by marissabaker.wordpress.comFor 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.

1: Repentance

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.

2: Security

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).

3: Fearless

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).

4: Relationship

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)

I love this scripture necklace, and I plan to get one as soon as I can decide what verse I want (anything up to 50 characters). The artist is an Etsy seller.

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.

5: Love

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?