We continue our march through the books of the Bible. 6->7 year project.
When I think of the book of Proverbs, I have a tendency to think of philosophy, wisdom, ethics, ideology, justice – in short, old men sitting around a table talking. Is this image right and is the book of Proverbs therefore good for us to look at in a family service?
The answer to that is that my initial image is skewed and the book of Proverbs is perfect for looking at in a family service because Proverbs is a book of instruction for all the family – children and youth and parents and husbands and wives and business people and students and people who know nothing and people who think they know everything – really for everyone. 箴言は今日の家族礼拝に最適です。なぜなら箴言は家族みんなのための教本だからです。
Yet it’s not just a book of advice for us to think about and evaluate. It is the word of God for us to delight in and trust and follow.
Written primarily by Solomon (wisest person to ever live) yet also by others, about 1,000 years BC.
There are three key purposes in the book of Proverbs: 箴言の3つの主要目的：
i. To make wise people wiser 賢い人をより賢くする
ii. To guide youth to a happy and prosperous life 若者を幸せで豊かな人生に導く
iii. To help people avoid the pitfalls of folly 愚かな落とし穴に落ちないようにしてくれる
And we can see 5 key focuses in the book of Proverbs: 箴言の5つの主要焦点：
i. Youth 若者
Proverbs contrasts for youth the way of wisdom with the path of violence and immorality.
Violence and sexual immorality are presented as the antithesis of wisdom.
(Pete: “I started leading the youth group when I was 21 and still knew everything. Now I’m 26 and I don’t want to know anything.”)
1:4: (The Proverbs are) for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young.
ii. Family 家族
Proverbs has lots to say about family relations. 箴言は家族関係についてたくさん書かれています
Proverbs condemns the quarrelsome wife. This is often done with humour:
A nagging wife is like water going drip-drip-drip on a rainy day. (27:15 GNT)
Rick Warren weighs in: “Does nagging work? Has it ever worked? When somebody tells you all the things you’re doing wrong, does it make you want to change? No!”
The home is to be a place of peace and love, not dissension. As such, quarrelsome, quick-tempered husbands are also cautioned.
iii. Work 働くこと
Proverbs strongly encourages hard work and diligence. The sluggard is denounced for his laziness – and wealth, generally speaking, is connected to righteousness.
Again, this is sometimes done with insightful humour: 箴言は一生懸命働くことと勤勉を強く勧めています。
As a door turns on its hinges, so a sluggard turns on his bed. (26:14)
Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth. (10:4)
(Interesting one:) The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, without painful toil for it. (10:22)
iv. Character 品性
Honesty and justice are praised repeatedly in Proverbs, and community and spiritual leaders are expected to be models in these matters. Kindness, especially to the needy, leads to blessing.誠実と正義は箴言で何度も称賛されています。 親切は祝福へと導きます。
Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God. (14:31)
Those who are proud and arrogant will not be blessed but will in fact be “destroyed”. And drunkards are depicted as fools and their miseries are described in graphic terms.
Drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags. (23:21)
v. Spiritual matters 霊的なこと
Acknowledging God as the Creator is central to wisdom, and God’s wisdom is exalted at various points throughout the book. Proverbs exalts God as sovereign over all the earth and ultimately in control of everyone and everything. 神を創造者として認めることが知恵の中心となることです。
The Lord works out everything to its proper end—
even the wicked for a day of disaster. (16:4)
But most of all is the focus on the fear of the Lord. If the whole of the book of Proverbs could be summed up in one verse, this would be it: しかし主を恐れることが最大焦点です。
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.” (Proverbs 1 v 7)
Sometimes it helps to understand a challenging concept by putting it in a parable or human terms. Story of school headmaster.
Godly fear acknowledges with profound understanding who God is (and who we are).
It acknowledges both God’s love and His justice.
It understands both his compassion and his holiness.
It believes that God both rewards and disciplines his children.
The fear of the Lord is NOT just an Old Testament attitude replaced by a New Testament buddy-love of God. The fear of the Lord remains just as important as the love of the Lord:
“Then the churches had rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and
Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and
in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.” (Ac 9:31)
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my
presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own
salvation with fear and trembling;” (Php 2:12)
Reflection time. Could this attitude before God be something that is missing from our faith?
Too many mighty Christians have fallen in the faith – morally and spiritually – because although they loved God, they didn’t fear Him.
What do we risk by loving God but not fearing [God] Him?
1. We close ourselves to the treasures of God’s wisdom and knowledge!
(B/c “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.” (Proverbs 1 v 7))
2. We will flirt with evil and be corrupted by it 悪に手を出し堕落してしまう (Rom 1)
3. (Ironically, without a fear of God) We will not come to know the love of God that gives us assurance and confidence of our salvation 救いの確信と自信を与えてくれる神の愛を知ることができない
4. When we fall into sin, we will not be motivated to repent and turn to God!
5. We will not be motivated to truly “work out our own salvation”!
6. If we don’t fear God we will fear something (or someone) else.
(When we fear God, we don’t need to fear anything else.)
John Newton: Twas grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved.
And so the fear of the Lord must be as important to us as the love of the Lord.