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smiling young man May 28 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Proverbs 10, 11, 12, 13

Right Words, Right Actions

What is right? In our relative, godless society the answer to that question is blurred. The philosophy of the 21st century seems to be “what is right for you is right for you, and what is right for me is right for me.” Indeed, we have become almost like our own gods, determining for ourselves what is right and wrong. Is there a standard for right and wrong? Who determines it? What words and actions are right?

Shortly after Solomon was established as king of all Israel, God’s gift of wisdom was given to him in answer to his prayer. In chapters 1-9 of Proverbs Solomon gave advice as a father to his sons or as a teacher to his students. In these chapters he established a case for following the good path of wisdom. Now in chapters 10-29 Solomon gives many various short proverbs. As we said before, proverbs are jewels of wisdom that are usually true. They are not promises, although in reading them they sound like promises. Like jewels in a jewelry box, each gem of wisdom becomes brilliant in our lives as we take one out, and rub it on the cloth of life, putting it into practice. A prominent theme in chapters 10-13, though not limited to these chapters, is the theme of righteousness. Righteousness is conformity to a standard, and namely, the standard is God. The Almighty God, the LORD, was before all things, and he is the creator of all things (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1-3). He is good, just, holy, and altogether righteous (Psalm 11:7; 145:17). God reveals his character to Moses in Exodus 34:6-7:

The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation. (NIV)

God made the law and the commandments according to his wisdom, holiness, justice and love. Righteousness comes by faith (Romans 1:17). Unless we have a changed heart by his grace through faith in Jesus Christ, we will not desire to live for God, and we will naturally be rebellious against his laws.

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45, NIV)

What we say with our lips and how we live our lives reveals the good or evil in our hearts.

Solomon wrote chapters 10-29 in the poetical form of parallelism (more…). Most of the poetry in chapters 10-13 is antithetical, i.e., the first verse is usually joined together with the conjunction, “but,” to introduce a contrasting thought. In Proverbs 10-13, the two predominate themes (amongst other various themes) are the wise use of our mouths or words versus the foolish use of the same, and righteousness versus wickedness.

The wise use of our mouths is illustrated in these verses (and others): Proverbs 10:11, 19-21, 32:

The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked. (10:11, NIV)
When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value. The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of judgment. (10:19-21, NIV)
The lips of the righteous know what is fitting, but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse. (10:32, NIV)

How will we use our mouths and the words that flow from it? A righteous man or woman uses his/her mouth for good, not evil.

Righteousness versus wickedness is also illustrated by these verses in today’s reading: Proverbs 11:19-21, 12:3, 21, and 28:

The truly righteous man attains life, but he who pursues evil goes to his death. The LORD detests men of perverse heart but he delights in those whose ways are blameless. Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished, but those who are righteous will go free. (11:19-21, NIV)
A man cannot be established through wickedness, but the righteous cannot be uprooted. (12:3, NIV)
No harm befalls the righteous, but the wicked have their fill of trouble. (12:21, NIV)
In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immortality (12:28, NIV).

What path of life will we follow? A righteous man/woman will follow the path that pleases God and leads to immortality.

Lessons to live by:

  • Righteousness is conformity to a standard, and namely, the standard is God.
  • God made the law and the commandments according to his wisdom, holiness, justice and love, but unless we have a changed heart, desiring to live for God, we will naturally be rebellious against his laws.
  • Righteousness comes by faith in Jesus Christ for salvation (more...).
  • A righteous man or woman uses his/her mouth for good, not evil
  • A righteous man/woman will follow the path that pleases God and that leads to immortality.

Today’s Bible memory verse: Proverbs 10:29 “The way of the LORD is a refuge for the righteous, but it is the ruin of those who do evil.” (NIV)

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