Saturday, November 23, 2013

Isaiah 2

Prophet Isaiah says that in the last days, the LORD's house shall be established.
Isaiah 2:2 In the last days
the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established
    as the highest of the mountains;
it will be exalted above the hills,
    and all nations will stream to it.
LORD's ultimate plan is to have everyone live in peace. He wants to dwell among His people, who will be purified of their sins. The LORD will judge the nations, settle disputes, and many will be rebuked. There will no longer be any wars.

He then speaks about those rich and successful folks. They are wealthy and filled with idol worship. They ignore LORD and face humiliation on the day of LORD's exaltation. Their pride will cost them.
Isaiah 2:17 The arrogance of man will be brought low
    and human pride humbled;
the LORD alone will be exalted in that day,
18     and the idols will totally disappear.
People will tremble at the fearful presence of the LORD and go hide in caves. He wants everyone to stop trusting in mere humans, who are nothing but a mere breath.

Isaiah 1

Prophet Isaiah uses some strong language in his book while speaking about the rebellious nature of Israel. He is specifically talking about sinners who continue their rebellion and eventually they do not recognize their Heavenly Father.
Isaiah 1:2 Hear me, you heavens! Listen, earth!
    For the LORD has spoken:
“I reared children and brought them up,
    but they have rebelled against me.
3 The ox knows its master,
    the donkey its owner’s manger,
but Israel does not know,
    my people do not understand.”
LORD punishes Israel with the intent of bringing them back towards Him, just like a caring father. He wants His children to show repentance through acts of kindness and morality, and not through religious rituals.
Isaiah 1:13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
    Your incense is detestable to me.
New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—
    I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.
He gives them two choices:
Option A - Obey and be cleanses of your sins
Option B - Rebel and be destroyed. 
Shawl dipped in scarlet dye.

For those who are willing to repent, he will cleanse their sins that are like scarlet to be like pure white snow.

LORD is worried that once faithful city Jerusalem, has now become like a harlot.
Isaiah 1:21 See how the faithful city
    has become a prostitute!
She once was full of justice;
    righteousness used to dwell in her—
    but now murderers!
He wants to purge it like how it used to be before - a city of righteousness. However it will be only after LORD has caused the rebellious people to perish.


LORD communicates with His people in various ways, and occasionally He uses other men to speak directly about a promise or warning. These men who LORD used for His delivery service are called LORD’s messengers or Prophets.

In early days, these Prophets exhibited rather unusual outward behavior. Later, people came to understand that outward display of inexplicable behavior were not very important. What really mattered was whether a Prophet stood in the presence of the LORD or not. Ideally, a Prophet was one who spoke with LORD ‘face to face’.

Major and Minor Prophets
In Old Testament, we come across both Major and Minor Prophets. "Major" and "Minor" Prophets are means to classify their books.

Prophets classified as Major Prophets are Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel.

Those Minor Prophets are Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.

Major Prophets had more messages to convey and their books tend to be longer. However, Prophets of both classification are equally important. 

True and False Prophets
There were both 'true prophets' and 'false prophets'.

A true prophet had the hallmarks of
 - Calling from LORD,
 - Message from LORD,
 - Praying to LORD, on behalf of His people.

False prophets were those who called people away after ‘other things’. They encouraged people to deviate from the ways in which LORD commanded them to walk. These prophets fail when tested against what is already recognized as a truth about LORD. Also, a false prophet’s messages never come true.

LORD is always at work to bring His people back to Him. He has a bright future in store for His people. The job of a true prophet is to summon men and women to personal readiness to meet with LORD. With this goal in mind, they encourage men and women to live in obedience to LORD’s standards and commands – which produces a sound society.

In a nutshell, “The message is what makes a Prophet a Prophet.”

I will not be writing summary for the books of these major and minor prophets. Some of them are long, while others are short with a handful of chapters. In the end, I may summarize the prophecy of each prophet in a tabular format.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Song of Songs 8

The wife has persuaded King Solomon to go back to her home for a visit. The purpose is to visit family and to check how those vineyards were faring. This is sort of a honeymoon trip.

Apparently, her brothers are not so happy to see King Solomon with their sister, even though he is the King. The couple exhibited an open display of affection towards each other in front of them. Her mother wanted to make some pomegranate wine from their own trees. His wife wanted him to make love to her at her house.

However, as before, she cautions the maiden of Jerusalem not to awaken love early.
Song of Songs 8:4 Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you:
    Do not arouse or awaken love
    until it so desires.
Then one of her relatives happens to see her with King Solomon and asks this rhetorical question, with love and affection, "Who is this coming...?"

The relative remind her of the sacred pledge her mother took, under the apple tree. This relative was the one who taught her under the same apple tree. She was taught to wait for love until the appointed one will come receive her.

After being reminded of this pledge, she requests King Solomon to seal the pledge himself, placing her like a seal on his arm and in his heart.
Song of Songs 8:6 Place me like a seal over your heart,
    like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
    its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
    like a mighty flame.
The scene of the song now changes, and now one of her elder brothers approached her - most likely at a vineyard. He was the one who took care of her welfare and wanted King Solomon to know his concerns as well. Now that his sister is the King's wife, he expects some reward for taking care of her in the past, which he is not shy to ask.

He reminds the couple that they still have a younger sister to take care of. He reminds them how he was taking care of her.
Song of Songs 8:8 We have a little sister,
    and her breasts are not yet grown.
What shall we do for our sister
    on the day she is spoken for?
She responds with appreciating saying she too was like that until she found favor in the eyes of King Solomon. Next, she talks about those financial matters. King Solomon has leased out his vineyards for an annual payment of 1,000 silvers. She too has a vineyard, which she is willing to lease out for the same amount, and two hundred for those who tend it's fruits. She thus takes care of family business.

After having put everything to rest, she urges King Solomon:
Song of Songs 8:13 You who dwell in the gardens
    with friends in attendance,
    let me hear your voice!
She is anxious to mount upon those spicy hills of frankincense and myrrh,
Song of Songs 8:14 Come away, my beloved,
    and be like a gazelle
or like a young stag
    on the spice-laden mountains.

My Thoughts
This vineyard King Solomon leased out was most likely leased to her own brother, and possibly that is where King Solomon met her.

Song of Songs 7

King Solomon is sitting relaxed and watching his beloved perform that 'Dance of Love' in front of him. He is the eloquent speaker. Since the two of them are all alone, it is quite natural of her to have little or no clothing at all - this enables her beloved to rapturously enjoy her curves and beauty.

He is watching her beloved perform her gracious dance of submissiveness. It turns out, the only article of clothing is her sandals. King Solomon then starts scaling her upwards, her thighs, joints, navel, belly, breasts, neck, eyes, nose, head, and finally hair. He employs those similes of praise which he used previously.
Song of Songs 7:6 How beautiful you are and how pleasing,
    my love, with your delights!
He summarizes his survey about her to be pleasing and delightful. He visualizes her entire figure as that of a palm tree with it's clusters compared to her breasts.

At this point, King Solomon cannot restrain his ardor any further. He says,
Song of Songs 7:8 I said, “I will climb the palm tree;
    I will take hold of its fruit.”
King Solomon's ardent expressions of admiration and desire has culminated in obtaining her full attention. She is now ready to joyfully and willingly submit herself for a total physical union.
Song of Songs 7:10 I belong to my beloved,
    and his desire is for me.
Song of Songs 7:11 Come, my beloved, let us go to the countryside,
    let us spend the night in the villages.

His desire refers to the sexual desire and is fully directed towards her. She is suggesting, of enjoying those exotic fruits of love at the countryside where they used to enjoy - away from the busy city life. 

Song of Songs 6

The women of Jerusalem are curious and ask the bride about the whereabouts of King Solomon.
Song of Songs 6:1 Where has your beloved gone,
    most beautiful of women?
Which way did your beloved turn,
    that we may look for him with you?
This sudden interest on the part of those maiden was sufficient to wake the bride from her dream. To this, the bride answers,
Song of Songs 6:2 My beloved has gone down to his garden,
    to the beds of spices,
to browse in the gardens
    and to gather lilies.
She tells them that King Solomon has gone to other "garden" to browse and gather lilies. She then reassures herself that she belongs to her beloved, and he is her beloved.

As this is a poem, the scene now changes to the arrival of King Solomon, where his bride is waiting. He has no lesser love for her and has now forgotten about the entire episode from the other night.

Upon his return, he is once again elusive about her beauty. He tells her that she is far better than others.
Song of Songs 6:8 Sixty queens there may be,
    and eighty concubines,
    and virgins beyond number;
9 but my dove, my perfect one, is unique,
    the only daughter of her mother,
    the favorite of the one who bore her.
The young women saw her and called her blessed;
    the queens and concubines praised her.
His friends are inquiring who this beauty is. To them, he explains how he met her in the vineyard. They are interested in seeing her.

Song of Songs 5

King Solomon wasted no time to accept his bride's invitation. He entered his "garden" after the long await.
Song of Songs 5:1 I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride;
    I have gathered my myrrh with my spice.
I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey;
    I have drunk my wine and my milk.
After this, the lovers drift off to sleep. The bride has a strange dream. Her body is sleeping, but her heart is awake.

In her dream, her husband had gone somewhere and returned, seeking entrance to her chamber. Having settled in for the night, she hesitates. Her beloved continues his knocking. She then changed her mind. By now, she can see his hands reaching inside searching for that door latch.
Song of Songs 5:4 My beloved thrust his hand through the latch-opening;
    my heart began to pound for him.
Seeing this, her desire for his love overpowers her. Her fingers are now wet. She then hurries to open the door - only to find him gone. Apparently, he became discouraged at the the first coldness she exhibited. Her heart sank.

Still in her dream, she hurriedly put on her coat and veil and went out in the night. She looked for him, but could not find him. Instead, she found those city watchmen. Seeing a woman at the city at this hour, they think she is a harlot. They tore off her veil, hurt her and beat her.

She then shouts to those out there to convey the message to her lover that she is faint with love.

My Thoughts
Bad nights in the bedroom happens everywhere. The trick is not to repeat those performances.
The manner in which King Solomon took off after several failed attempts is just normal in bedrooms. This situation can tackled with love and communication. Timing is everything - a wise man and a wise woman needs to understand each other's sexual needs and maybe it is time to try something different this time.

Look at the trouble the bride got into. She does not have her beloved with her. On top of that, she got hurt by those city watchmen - all due to a small negligence. 

Song of Songs 4

This chapter talks about their wedding night.

We can hear King Solomon speaking to his bride. One can listen to those words of deep felt admiration for her physical beauty where he uses analogies. He speaks about her eyes, hair, teeth, beautiful lips, gracious speech, cheeks, neck, breasts, and finds no flaw in her.

After showering her with praise, King Solomon shares his loving desire to possess her in intimate marital sense. He wants to spend the entire night with her.
Song of Songs 4:9 You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride;
    you have stolen my heart
with one glance of your eyes,
    with one jewel of your necklace.
10 How delightful is your love, my sister, my bride!
    How much more pleasing is your love than wine,
and the fragrance of your perfume
    more than any spice!
He then refers to her pre-marital chastity - a history which he deeply appreciates.
Song of Songs 4:12 You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride;
    you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain. 
Next, he gets ready to unlock and enter that garden, a spring which he will now open, and a fountain soon to flow.

To this, she responds,
Song of Songs 4:16 Awake, north wind,
    and come, south wind!
Blow on my garden,
    that its fragrance may spread everywhere.
Let my beloved come into his garden
    and taste its choice fruits.

My Thoughts
Virginity is the biggest gift one can give his/her spouse.

Marriage is a divine approval to start enjoying sex. Couples should make sex a priority and keep that conjugal love in constant heat and vigor. This needs to be taught to our children as well.

LORD is happy when married couple enjoy his invention of sex. He takes delight in those sexual activities that place inside His followers' bedroom. LORD expects us drink and get drunk from that fountain of love he provided. 

Song of Songs 3

The bride is talking in this chapter. She mentions the absence of King Solomon in bed one night. She is found to be troubled and is now anxious to have that joy of her life restored. She went out to search her lover in the city.

Finally she found him with the help of city watchmen. She would not let him go. She insisted that he go with her to see her mother who would approve their marriage, once she met King Solomon.

Remember - at this point, she is still dreaming. Even in her dream, she is conscious enough to maintain sexual purity. That is what she urges the girls of Jerusalem to do:
Song of Songs 3:5 Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you
    by the gazelles and by the does of the field:
Do not arouse or awaken love
    until it so desires.
Next, we are taken into the actual wedding procession. This is not part of the bride's dream, but is an actual fulfillment of what she saw in her dream.

A wonderful poetic description of the wedding celebration is mentioned. It is a special time to make a statement. It involves a promise of life to one another by means of safety and security. Finally, it includes a pledge of commitment.

My Thoughts
I keep telling myself to slow down - this is not a detailed study where I have the liberty to keep typing forever. Therefore, I am cutting down on my explanations.

Awakening love - it is something huge. Those who have awakened love know how it feels and behaves, once awakened.

Commitment - something that is missing in many marriages today, which ends up in the court.

Song of Songs 2

King Solomon in this chapter makes us aware about the power of studying and praising our partner.
Here, he affirms how unique she is, and she does that in return as well.

He then goes on to proclaim both about protection and pleasure he derived from his partner.

Further, King Solomon suggests not to rush into love. He says, "Give it time." He also suggests to make love at the right place.
Song of Songs 2:4 Let him lead me to the banquet hall,
    and let his banner over me be love.
Next, we are told to make love with the right commitment. He was not ashamed of his love for her and did so by not contradicting his words. He wanted her, she wanted him, they were passionate, but all those essential ingredients were still not present.

Then she thought about their lovemaking and her mind carried her away towards their marriage which was almost close. She was faint with love and required to be strengthened and refreshed.

Then in verse 7, she goes on to say not to arouse or awaken love until it so desires. It is so important from a female perspective. This is what it means by right time.

She speaks about those gazelles and does of the fields - both beautiful female animals vigorous and sexually active in seasons.
Song of Songs 2:9 My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.
    Look! There he stands behind our wall,
gazing through the windows,
    peering through the lattice.
Song of Songs 2:10 My beloved spoke and said to me,
    “Arise, my darling,
    my beautiful one, come with me.
King Solomon then teaches us to listen and observe carefully. He reminds us that words are powerful weapons and messengers at times of romance. When he tells us about gazing through the windows, he is essentially telling us to watch our partner's eyes. He wants us to listen for the tone, listen for that passion etc. The reason is that little things can lead to larger events as relationships are sensitive.

The factor of trust is emphasized as the partners should know and belong to each other. It is important to know that lovers need each other.
Song of Songs 2:16 My beloved is mine and I am his;
    he browses among the lilies.
17 Until the day breaks
    and the shadows flee,
turn, my beloved,
    and be like a gazelle
or like a young stag
    on the rugged hills.

My Thoughts
LORD created man to be sexually active and always sexually interested. He created women to be sexual beings with sexual desires. A wise mate will understand the difference and hence bridge that gap to enjoy the company of each other.

Knowing that time of the day when one's partner enjoys sex the most is important for a wonderful sex life. This is a big deal for those girls. Majority of guys are ready almost anytime. It's only a tiny percentage of guys who observe lent, fasting etc., for whom timing is a concern.

Then there are emotions that change the mood. A person serious about marriage relationship should enroll himself in a dedicated study about sex - it is extensive and well worth.

As a guideline, it is better to know that men and women differ on several grounds.

Guys - talking may sound a difficult exercise, but it nurtures intimacy for women. Sometimes being a best talker is by listening to those feelings of women. What a woman wants from a guy is affirmation and assurance. Guys are visual animals and romance means sex. However, romance can mean a variety of things for girls - a candle lit dinner; a walk in the park, holding hands; watching the rain seated together, etc,.

Girls - Please understand that guys are wired differently. They tend to see life in a different angle. Their world comprises of dominance, strength, solutions, etc,. All they care about is being successful - in front of their family, friends and society. They respond in a different way to romance and sex - please feel free to ask straight as it will get results.

Song of Songs 1

King Solomon tells us how to begin a love story and how love, romance and marriage looks thorough the eyes of a child. We are told about getting started in a relationship.

Song of Songs is the best and finest songs. In this chapter, we are told that 'True Love' is accompanied by many blessings.

She desired to be filled with his kisses of mouth. She found his lovemaking to be far intoxicating than wine.

She says that she is dark and comely.
Song of Songs 1:6 Do not stare at me because I am dark,
    because I am darkened by the sun.
My mother’s sons were angry with me
    and made me take care of the vineyards;
    my own vineyard I had to neglect.
She confessed her unworthiness. and desired to be directed to the shepherds’ tents.

King Solomon found her to be beautiful.
Song of Songs 1:15 How beautiful you are, my darling!
    Oh, how beautiful!
    Your eyes are doves.
She found the King to be attractive as well.
Song of Songs 1:16 How handsome you are, my beloved!
    Oh, how charming!
    And our bed is verdant.
Notice how King Solomon calls her, "My Darling." He then told her about his love.

Next, he presented her with gifts. Actions can always speak louder than words.

From the actions of King Solomon, we can learn that admiration and desire for our partner should be expressed by means of words and actions so that he/she will understand it precisely.

My Thoughts
The person whom we love looks wonderfully beautiful in our eyes. It is because we see them with our internal eyes, through the lens of love. I always give importance to that inner beauty.

Marriage is the real deal and there can be ups and downs, and sure it does have romance. It pays a lot, to grow and learn more about our spouse.

Sex is most enjoyable when it is savored both physically and emotionally. The dimension of love adds spice to sex, and is the best with whom we love the most. When we make that vow of marriage in front of LORD, we are submitting ourselves to that partner - who now is a part of us. Sex at home, with the partner, is the best - unlike portrayed by these movies, books or advertisements - the media is deceiving us about sex. We need to do everything to preserve our marriage sacredly, so that sex can be enjoyed to the fullest extend.

Talking about communicating with partners, guys are hopeless when it comes to communication. They fail utterly to capture those cues and hints from women. Majority of men don't even understand that sign language women use. One request I have towards women - "Please communicate it openly with your partner when it comes to matters of romance, love and sex. Do not feel shy or hold back your thoughts. I guarantee you will have a steamy and wonderful evening."

Song of Songs - An Executive Summary

Song of Songs, is not one of those books that is usually discussed during a church sermon. Neither is it taught in a Sunday school setting. Song of Songs describes the intense love between a man and woman in explicit detail. To many Christians and Jews, it is a surprise how such a book made it into the canon of the Bible.

Most mammals who choose mates show interest in them only for brief periods of time, during the female cycle. Humans on the other hand, show interest in intimacy though-out the cycle regardless of fertility cycle. For humans, the expression of love goes beyond sex, reproduction and stretches far beyond those fertile years. This intimacy between a man and woman helps cement the love between husband and wife into a relationship which can last a lifetime. It is indeed, a gift from LORD.

This book portrays the deep genuine love between a man and a woman in marriage. The subject of this book is quite sexy in nature. King Solomon puts on full display of that intimacy LORD intended for a man and woman in a tastefully and appealing fashion. It demonstrates those joys of physical intimate love within marriage.

We learn from this book that sex is a wonderful gift from LORD. He invented it so that it should be enjoyed to the maximum between a man and woman within a marriage. King Solomon portrays the beauty of love and devotion between the two.

The desire for the darling is sung sweetly and beautifully in the form of a dialogue between a husband and his wife. The book can be divided into three sections:
- the courtship
- the wedding and
- the maturing marriage.

The Courtship
King Solomon owned several vineyards and while visiting one of them, he met a Shulamite girl from the countryside. She captured the heart of King Solomon, and they fell in love. He pursued her and made periodic visits to meet her. She waited for him to arrive and looked forward to his intimate caresses. King Solomon praised her beauty, overcoming her feelings of insecurity regarding her appearance.

The girl had a dream in which she lost Solomon and searched for him throughout the city. With the help of the city guards, she found her darling and clinged to him, taking him to a safe place. Upon waking, she repeats her injunction not to force love. She thought of letting love develop naturally, in its own time.

When the King asked her to marry him, the Shulamite girl gave serious consideration whether she would be happy in that majestic palace of King Solomon or not. She loved him so much that she finally agreed for the marriage.

The Wedding
A wonderful wedding procession was sent to escort the bride to King Solomon's palace. They got married in Jerusalem. The details of their intimate first night is recorded. On the wedding night, the King praised the beauty of his wife, and in a highly symbolic language, the wife invited her spouse to partake of all she had to offer. They make love, and LORD blessed their union.

The Maturing Marriage
As their marriage matured, the husband and wife deal with the joys and problems of marriage - they go through a difficult time, symbolized in another dream. In this second dream, the Shulamite girl refused the sexual advances of King Solomon, and he left her. Overcome with guilt, and realizing her foolishness, she searched the entire city for him. However, this time, instead of helping her, the guards beat her. Finally, she found him and they had a time of reconciliation.

She then asked King Solomon to take her on a vacation, towards those mountains of Lebanon where she grew up. The lovers unite in her home country where they enjoy sexual intimacy and pledge for mutual and devoted love for each other.

Both husband and wife are confident and secure in their love. Towards the end of this book, they sing of the lasting nature of true love, and they yearn to be in each other’s presence.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ecclesiastes 12

Continuing the topic of fearing LORD from the youth, King Solomon sounds a warning to remember the LORD before the day of trouble arrives.
He recommends us to grow intimate with LORD as those pleasures will not be pleasurable for long.
Ecclesiastes 12:12 Remember your Creator
    in the days of your youth,
before the days of trouble come
    and the years approach when you will say,
    “I find no pleasure in them”
After having seen everything in life, King Solomon now speaks of the aging process. He refers to fading memory, and the house trembeling. Here, he refers to one's hands beginning to tremble as old age approaches. Hands that once used to protect an individual tend to tremble with age. Men stoop down and even become shorter by few inches. Loss of teeth results in 'loss of grinders'.

A person's activities are limited, they are easily startled and even begin to sound softer like a bird.

We are told about bodily pains and the fear of security - in olden days, along with ache on back, hip and knee, those elderly were vulnerable to the attack of wild animals as well.

With old age, several desires tend to die down as well - a person becomes frusturated and angry over the challenges he now has to face.

"Remember the LORD" is the advice King Solomon has for us.

The Conclusion of the Matter
In this book, King Solomon told us are few basic truths to ensure the reader lives wisely. Here is how the book of Ecclesiastes concludes:
Ecclesiastes 12:9 Not only was the Teacher wise, but he also imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs. 10 The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true.
11 The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails - given by one shepherd. 12 Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.
Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.
13 Now all has been heard;
    here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
    for this is the duty of all mankind.
14 For God will bring every deed into judgment,
    including every hidden thing,
    whether it is good or evil.

Ecclesiastes 11

King Solomon tells us about taking calculated risks and diversifying our investment portfolios, due to the uncertainty of life. We are supposed to be working hard and shrewd in conducting business - we never know how LORD will bless us.

We are told not to stay passive by adhering to a neutral zone, and doing nothing. We are not to be too impulsive either - but strike a balance.
Ecclesiastes 11:4 Whoever watches the wind will not plant;
    whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.
Another verse that tells us about diversification of investment:
Ecclesiastes 11:6 Sow your seed in the morning,
    and at evening let your hands not be idle,
for you do not know which will succeed,
    whether this or that,
    or whether both will do equally well.
A wonderful advice is about remembering LORD the creator while we are young. The young need to be coached by able and godly people about the fear and love of LORD. Further, they are to be told and taught about LORD's judgement.
Ecclesiastes 11:9 You who are young, be happy while you are young,
    and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth.
Follow the ways of your heart
    and whatever your eyes see,
but know that for all these things
    God will bring you into judgment.

My Thoughts
Many parents, tend to think, "Let my children learn about the LORD when they are still young. I have already come this far in life (without learning much) - there are so many fantasies which I am exposed to, and I still have to try them out and taste those pleasures. While I focus on those activities, let my children study about God and be safe. That way, I am fulfilling my parental duties."

Unless parents know about the LORD, they will be unable to lead their children to Him. One purpose of having family prayers at home along with children is to demonstrate how humble we become in front of the LORD - as He is so great. Children should see how we tremble with fear in His presence. Parents should show how to revere the LORD everyday.

Same is the reason for attending church in a group setting - to show our children how the so called leaders, regardless of their profession, age, wealth, strength, beauty, etc., humbling and bowing themselves in the presence of LORD almighty and seeking His grace and mercy. If we are unable to show this to our children, we are not taking them to the right place and showing the the true reason of group worship.

It is the responsibility of parents to lead the young towards the LORD - He expects us to do so, as they are gifts from Him. I wish parents take children to the church not only to teach them how to dress in traditional clothes and to taste traditional meal, but also to show them their father -  Our LORD.


Ecclesiastes 10

Here King Solomon reminds us to pay attention to those small things. He stresses on the importance of minute details. He tells us how easy to downplay those "little tasks" which can have a lasting impression in our lives. A learned person can tell the difference.
Ecclesiastes 10:3 Even as fools walk along the road,
    they lack sense
    and show everyone how stupid they are.
He next tells us about staying calm under stress - something all of us could use.

Anyone who indulges in "little foolishness" can bring some grave consequences. He is ready to point us that foolishness is displayed at every level within our society.
Ecclesiastes 10:6 Fools are put in many high positions,
    while the rich occupy the low ones.
Next, he tells us the popular phrase, "Work Smarter, Not Harder." He wants us to prepare for any task of undertaking. Any danger that may come from mundane activities need to be addressed beforehand.

Moving on, we encounter a series of vignettes of foolish and wise living. In a nutshell, we gotta control our tongue.

My Thoughts
Walking is a skill that can be acquired by practice. Those who study body language can read a lot from observing a man's walking style - the way he holds his head, how he swings his hands, the pace at which he walks, about the sense of pride he demonstrates, whether his feet are angled outward, inward, or straight, etc. One can find elegance in the manner in which women walk as well. 

Ecclesiastes 9

King Solomon is sharing some of his conclusions with us.

The righteous and the wise have a brief and transient period in this world, we certainly should appreciate the life we have.
Ecclesiastes 9:4 Anyone who is among the living has hope - even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!
The same destiny awaits all of us.

Here is the general advice:
Ecclesiastes 9:7 Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. 8 Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. 9 Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun - all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.
Next, King Solomon narrates a short story and the moral of the story is, "Wisdom is better than strength."

"Wisdom is better than weapons of war," he adds.

Ecclesiastes 8

The chapter starts with something to adorn the face. King Solomon tells us how to brighten our face.
Ecclesiastes 8:1 Who is like the wise?
    Who knows the explanation of things?
A person’s wisdom brightens their face
    and changes its hard appearance.
Obey the King
We are told that submission and obedience towards those in authority is a wise choice. It is not always easy but whoever does so will not come to any harm.

We are taken through various scenarios of life and the King himself is unable to grasp it. He recommends us to fear the LORD.
Ecclesiastes 8:14 There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: the righteous who get what the wicked deserve, and the wicked who get what the righteous deserve. This too, I say, is meaningless. 
He recommends us to eat, drink and to be glad - the joy will accompany. After thorough searching, King Solomon tells us that there are so many things going on, "under the sun" and even the wisest of the wise cannot comprehend it all - only LORD knows.

My Thoughts
"Brightening the face" is an industry by itself - those who offer such services using cosmetics, facials, and even plastic surgeons, are in great demand. I wonder how many are interested in reading Ecclesiastes 8:1 about "How to brighten your face." Many mothers may easily recommend it to their children, but when it comes to 'brightening their own face', they will flip through those "yellow pages" looking for that parlor.

How much can a human mind comprehend? We certainly have a finite capacity.

Ecclesiastes 7

King Solomon teaches us about gaining wisdom from unlikely places.
Ecclesiastes 7:4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
    but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.
He tells us there are several means of foolish living, but the path of wisdom is narrow. However, it brings great joy for those who continue their course on that narrow path of wisdom. He quotes wisdom has numerous wonderful qualities to offer.
Ecclesiastes 7:11 Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing
    and benefits those who see the sun.
12 Wisdom is a shelter
    as money is a shelter,
but the advantage of knowledge is this:
    Wisdom preserves those who have it.
LORD's perspective of a good life is different from the world's view of a successful life. This distortion confuses several individuals and puts them at crossroads.

We all have sinned. King Solomon tells us that a deep awareness about our sinfulness brings clarity and wisdom as to where we are.

Next we are told there are numerous distractions that can turn us away from the path of wisdom. Topping his list is the topic of women. While women were a large part of his life and kingdom, he shares his firsthand experience of the reality.
Ecclesiastes 7:26 I find more bitter than death
    the woman who is a snare,
whose heart is a trap
    and whose hands are chains.
The man who pleases God will escape her,
    but the sinner she will ensnare. 

My Thoughts
A wise person will know his own limitations and knowledge. He then starts to depend on the sovereign LORD for his day to day living.   

Ecclesiastes 6

King Solomon tells us, what we consider wonderful blessings cannot be enjoyed on their own. LORD is indispensable for happiness in life. He gives us two examples:
Ecclesiastes 6:1 I have seen another evil under the sun, and it weighs heavily on mankind: 2 God gives some people wealth, possessions and honor, so that they lack nothing their hearts desire, but God does not grant them the ability to enjoy them, and strangers enjoy them instead. This is meaningless, a grievous evil.
3 A man may have a hundred children and live many years; yet no matter how long he lives, if he cannot enjoy his prosperity and does not receive proper burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he. 

Catering to ourselves, we lose our life and seldom derive happiness. When we lose ourselves in the service of others, we find happiness. When in service to others, we find the image of LORD and that's when our cravings will be satisfied.

We need to acknowledge the fact that only LORD can explain the riddle of our life. He is the one who created us and knows our purpose. We see what happens in the world only for a brief period.
Ecclesiastes 6:12 For who knows what is good for a person in life, during the few and meaningless days they pass through like a shadow? Who can tell them what will happen under the sun after they are gone?

My Thoughts
Can anyone visualize King Solomon's emotions when he writes all these? How helpless he feels with all those things he has. Materialistically, he has everything. If we were spending time with him while he wrote this, would he have told us how he felt?

Ecclesiastes 5

King Solomon tells us that numerous things can distract us from worshiping LORD. He narrates few hindrances in this chapter. The 'love for money' keeps us from the greatest treasure of all - an intimate relationship with LORD.

Fulfill Your Vow to God
We are warned about how to approach the house of LORD.
Ecclesiastes 5:1 Guard your steps when you go to the house of LORD. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.
He then warns us about making vows to the LORD. He makes us aware about whom we are dealing with.

Riches Are Meaningless
This lesson on riches is coming from the richest and wisest King.

Injustice causes a person to question the goodness of our LORD. We are bound to observe the poor being oppressed.

King Solomon wars us against the love of money (not money).
Ecclesiastes 5:10 Whoever loves money never has enough;
    whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
    This too is meaningless.
The advice he gives us is to eat, drink and find satisfaction in our labor. It is a person's relationship with the LORD that brings joy to one's life.

My Thoughts
I have noticed the way parents with their children come into the house of LORD. For many, it is a place for party and fellowship - a weekend activity for social gathering. These individuals "see and meet" everyone - but the LORD. They purposely arrive towards the end, when it is "almost time" to meet other families, share gossip and eat those delicacies. Who else can this be, other than a bunch of hypocrites. So true what King Solomon stated in verse 1 - they are a bunch of fools who come to offer sacrifices who do not know what they do wrong. It blows my mind away when I notice these spiritual leaders promoting this practice as well. Alas - these leaders become silenced when the people make hefty donations.

May LORD help them open their inner eyes.

Injustice - how sad it is to watch people safeguarding themselves (in front of others by looking good) when it is time to voice their opinion. I wonder at times when people keep quiet by observing injustice - aren't they (silently) supporting the evil?

The circumstances of life do not bring us any joy whatsoever. True happiness can be found in that wonderful relationship with the LORD - it really is! Though the path is not easy, it is worth it - truly epic!

Ecclesiastes 4

Oppression, Toil, Friendlessness
Now King Solomon hearkens on the theme of injustice which causes us to lose heart, especially if we on on it's receiving end. During such circumstances, loyal friends can comfort us to a certain extent.

People have various options, to exist in the world filled with injustice, selfish ambition and the pursuit to be number one. Being all alone with wealth is no fun, he says.
Ecclesiastes 4:9 Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Advancement Is Meaningless
A poor substitute for friendship is the temptation of belief that having power over others is good. Many believe it is wonderful to have people whom they can depend upon and call - which King Solomon describes as foolish.

My Thoughts
To have a meaningful friendship with another individual, he too should understand this philosophy listed in verse 9 and agree upon. That's the beauty of having friends with same faith.

Building a meaningful relationship followed by a loyal friendship may seem impossible. Understand that pride and ambition are two factors which keep us apart.

With the help of the LORD, it is easy to find people who think and view life alike. I am fortunate for having met several wonderful families who share similar values in life, with whom I share and discuss the scripture. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Ecclesiastes 3

A Time for Everything
We live in a time obsessed society where time is treated as a commodity. We have heard, "Time is Money" which tells us we should protect and guard it. A byproduct of this obsession led to a word - busy, which makes people 'look' important.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2     a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
King Solomon hits us with a long list of events - extensive, but certainly not exhaustive to cover a wide range of human activities. He tells us that there is a time and season for everything. It teaches us that things should be done at the right time in the right way.

While on earth, several things will remain unclear to us. One option lies ahead of us:
Will we submit ourselves to the LORD's plan even though several things are unclear and hidden from us?

LORD has set the concept of eternity in human hearts.
Ecclesiastes 3:12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.
In the end, man will die, just like animals.

Nobody wants to accept the fact that they are just like animals, made out of dust, walking on this planet with the help of LORD.
Ecclesiastes 3:20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. 

My Thoughts
If you ask me, every so called "busy executive" has time at their disposal. It is the priority and commitment individuals lack.

The concept of multitasking and multi-focusing sound good to ears, but how practical are they?

Right time in the right way, by the right person at the right place - is that exhaustive?

It is a wonderful experience to finally submit to LORD's plan - essentially, it means, "LORD, here I am, take me and use me according to Your will, if You find me worthy. Please include me in Your team, as I have allegiance only towards You - search out my heart, O' LORD. I already understood that I cannot create or change anything down here without Your help. Use me as your servant and allow me to stand in Your presence in that everlasting life. I will do my very best, to live by your commandments as your son." 

Ecclesiastes 2

Pleasures are meaningless
King Solomon made several poignant observations to see what was good for people to do on this earth, while they were alive for a short period of time. He tried out laughter, pleasures, cheering with wine, embracing folly, undertaking large challenging projects, etc. He occupied his mind with several distractions and finally realized that the effort was futile and not worthy of his time.
Ecclesiastes 2:11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
    and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
    nothing was gained under the sun.
Wisdom and Folly Are Meaningless
King Solomon considered whether a wise person is better than a fool.
Ecclesiastes 2:14 The wise have eyes in their heads,
    while the fool walks in the darkness;
but I came to realize
    that the same fate overtakes them both.
He noticed that both the wise and foolish will die. Moreover, both wise and fools will not be remembered forever.

Toil Is Meaningless
He hated life and came to understand that whatever he creates, he has to handover to the next generation. His research took a new turn when he noticed that LORD intervenes in every affair of mankind.
Ecclesiastes 2:24 A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, 25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? 26 To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

My Thoughts
OMG - what a research project did King Solomon undertake. He is documenting his findings for us. A wise person does not have to travel those paths again, to taste or learn the same things he discovered. Let's just listen to what he has to tell us, from his valuable experience.

Isn't this the same research work people all around us try to conduct? I wonder - how many are willing to listen to King Solomon's experience and research results? The modern man is dealing with the digital age, where things are packaged differently - but the desire for possessions, power, and pleasure is the same old one.

Ecclesiastes 1

Now that you know what meaningless means, pay attention to the verse:
Ecclesiastes 1:2 “Meaningless! Meaningless!”
    says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless.”
Man does not gain anything from his labor, Generation after generation comes and goes, but earth stays in it's place. Everyday, the sun rises and sets, rivers run – all things are full of labor, and in a constant cycle. There is nothing newly formed under the sun.

King Solomon then says that wisdom is meaningless.

Wisdom Is Meaningless
Ecclesiastes 1:12 I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens. What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind! 14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
15 What is crooked cannot be straightened;
    what is lacking cannot be counted.
16 I said to myself, “Look, I have increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.
18 For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;
    the more knowledge, the more grief.

My Thoughts
I truly hope that my readers understands the meaning of meaningless. 
For your easy reference, remember that Hebrew words can have a wide range of meaning. The word Hebel should not be interpreted in a narrow way. Hebel is parallel with 'ruah' which means wind or breath.

It refers to the worthless of worldly or human life, without the presence of LORD. Every human accomplishment will be left behind at some point in time. 

Ecclesiastes - An Executive Summary

Ecclesiastes is a philosophical book, in which wisdom is expressed in an everlasting and profound fashion. Biblical scholars attribute the Book of Ecclesiastes to King Solomon. King Solomon was led away from the LORD towards immoral activities including idol worship. It is believed that in his later years, he repented his sinful life and composed the book of Ecclesiastes. In it, he says that nothing has meaning without the presence of LORD. King Solomon is our Preacher, or Teacher in this book.

In an ironic relation, Ecclesiastes stands as a sharp antitheses to Proverbs which applies to everyone equally. For example, death comes to both the wise and foolish, and obliterates the distinction between the two.

Three phrases are repeated often in Ecclesiastes.

Under the Sun
This refers to a man's perspective of life without considering LORD - call it the moral world. We are reminded about those temporary things in life.

It refers to the worthless of worldly or human life, without the presence of LORD. Every human accomplishment will be left behind at some point.

Chasing the wind
A metaphor that evokes a strong image - a child chasing wind, that changes direction every now and then. The effort is useless, and results cannot be accomplished.

The first seven chapters describe all of those worldly things “under the sun” that the Teacher tries to find fulfillment in. He tries out the following:
- Scientific discovery (1:10-11),
- Wisdom and philosophy (1:13-18),
- Mirth (2:1),
- Alcohol (2:3),
- Architecture (2:4),
- Property (2:7-8), and
- Luxury (2:8).

Our teacher then turned his mind towards different philosophies to find meaning, such as:
- Materialism (2:19-20), and
- Moral codes (including chapters 8-9).

He found that everything was a temporary diversion of attention and meaningless without LORD - they had no purpose or longevity.

Chapters 8-12 of Ecclesiastes describe the Teacher’s suggestions and comments on how a human life should be lived. He comes to the conclusion that without LORD, there is no truth or meaning to life. He has seen many evils and realized that even the best of man’s achievements are worthless in the long run. He therefore recommends the readers to acknowledge LORD from youth (12:1) and to follow His will (12:13-14).

Monday, November 18, 2013

Proverbs 31

King Solomon is believed to be the author of this chapter. It is his mother's advice to him, and has two sections. The first section is "Mother's Advice on Leadership," followed by "The Wife of Noble Character."

Section 1 - Mother's Advice on Leadership. 
Listed in verses 1 - 9, Lemuel is believed to be a pet name of Solomon.

Mother addresses her son in terms of endearment, "O my son, What shall I tell you?" She is referring to him as the son of her vows - meaning she devoted him to the LORD. She just gives him three pieces of advice.

The fundamental principle is to maintain moral purity. He is not supposed to dissipate his energy on women, catering to his own lusts. He should look after the needs of his people.

The second warning mother gives: beware of alcohol. It clouds a man's memory and distorts his capability of judgement. As a king, he cannot afford to forget the law. Wine can turn a leader into a tyrant who could deprive the oppressed of their rights.

The third instruction is to stand for justice. As a king, he is supposed to speak up for those who cannot plead their own case. He is supposed to judge fairly, providing equal treatment to the destitute and needy.

Section 2 - The Wife of Noble Character
The book of proverbs opened with the most beautiful Lady Wisdom. It closes with the portrait of a literal woman pursuing as a wife.

We see the theme being the value of a good wife, a wife of noble character - which implies strength and ability.

Her husband trusts her fully, and she is completely faithful in every area. Therefore, her husband lacks nothing of value. She brings abundant good things into the home and is a continual asset to her husband. Her faithfulness is consistent and she continues her behavior all the days of her life.

Speaking of her diligence, she has an outstanding trait. She works with eager hands, creating things of beauty and usefulness. In this case, she is weaving cloth and sewing them as a major chore. She provided for those at home and made surplus so that she could sell.

Waking up early in the morning is her trademark. She gets up before the the rest of the family and ensures food is ready for her family as well as her servant girls. She gives instructions to those servants and makes sure they are properly nourished.

She is a woman of strength and stamina - with lots of skills and abilities. Her keen business sense enables her to save enough money out of her savings. With this, her family can purchase a field as future investment. Her previous business ventures were successful and she is encouraged to move forward with more. She not only gets up early, but also stays late to ensure everything is in order.

Her hands are always ready to be stretched out to the needy. The wife in this household is a model of wisdom.

Due to her presence, the family does not fear the arrival of winter. She has already made clothing of scarlet, which is expensive and of the highest quality adequate for cool weather. She then undertakes larger projects such as creating bed coverings by picking imported linen from Egypt and purple dye from Phoenicia. As a woman who decorates her home, she brings beauty and joy to the family.

With such a wife, her husband is respected by leaders of the city. Other men gathering at the city gates know well about the wife's merits. She enhances her husband's prestige rather than overshadowing him.

She is skillful and industrious enough to supply merchant ships with luxury items such as linen garments and sashes. Using her skill, she has developed a business.

The wife has no fear of the future. Even though the days to come may be uncertain, she has the character to face them with confidence. She is clothed regally with strength and dignity.

Like the Lady Wisdom, she is the giver of help and wisdom. She shares her wisdom with her husband and instructs her children and servants.

Speaking of her diligence, she gives herself both in management of others and in her own labor.

She receives the appreciation of her family.
Proverbs 31:28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
Simply put, she is the BEST!

Charm can be deceptive and beauty eventually fades. The godly character, which I call "inner beauty" counts most. Such a woman is recognized and honored at the city gates - an unusual and remarkable honor bestowed upon a woman - then again, she is awesome and deserves it.

My Thoughts
Three things for the man:
Avoid debauchery and wine. Administer justice soberly.

If I were to train a young girl to be a woman, this is that one chapter I would use from the Bible. The most remarkable women we hear about, such as Mary, mother of Jesus, used this chapter as their yardstick. The woman of godliness and ability mentioned here, is available on earth, but an extremely rare find. She is a key factor in her husband's success and is worthy of the highest praise. Anyone who finds such a woman should waste no time in acquiring her as his wife.

This chapter is beautifully presented. For one to appreciate the beauty of this chapter, he has to experience the love and presence of having such a woman in his life as well.

Proverbs 31 is an acrostic poem - which means each verse start with successive letters of Hebrew alphabet. The author also presented the poem in a special pattern known as "chaism" - where he moves through a series of steps until he reaches a climax, then retraces his steps approaching the subject in a reverse order.

A  High value of good wife 31:10
     B  Husband gets benefit from wife 31:11 - 12
          C  Wife works hard 31: 13-19
               D  Wife donates to poor 31:20
                    E  No fear of cold weather 31:21 a
                         F Children clothed in scarlet 31:21 b
                             G Coverings for linen, wife wears linen 31:22
                                  H  Public respect for husband 31:23
                             G'  Sells garments and sashes 31:24
                        F'  Wife clothed in dignity
                   E'  No fear of future 31:25b
              D'  Wife speaks wisdom 31:26
         C'  Wife works hard 31:27
     B'  Husband and children praise wife 31:28-29
A'  High value of good wife 31:30-31.

The central point is the high level of respect that comes upon the husband of such an amazing wife.

The way I look at, WIFE is an acronym for Wonderful Individual From Elohim.

I remind myself that woman was the final creation of LORD which He designed specially for men - essentially a man's gift. If we pay attention to the minute details in the way LORD designed a WIFE, it is remarkably breathtaking.

A man will only benefit lead his WIFE by holding her delicate hands as they climb mountains of life together, bonding and finding that equilibrium of joy. If a man has found that right WIFE, both of them will be absolutely content in each other's arms.

The first quality that comes to my mind is companionship - one who does not desert a man regardless of his flaws. Further, as a wonderful individual designed by LORD, a WIFE comes with these additional qualities - smart, wise, compassionate, funny, supportive, communicative, honest, dedicated, hard worker, romantic, spiritual, obedient, submissive, meek, grateful, and loving.

Sex needs special mention and is LORD's gift to be enjoyed with a WIFE. The most fabulous and steamy sex available is the one with the person you love the most - it satisfies both physically and emotionally.

Now, I call a 'Christian WIFE' a step above the rest of those wonderful wives. She comes with additional gifts from the LORD - Her portrait is what we see in Proverbs 31.

LORD created the entire universe with Lady Wisdom by His side. After creating Adam, LORD was happy - so happy that He accomplished the ultimate creation. Then, He gave Adam the ability of freewill - to choose between right and wrong. When Adam wanted a companion, LORD thought, "Why make it less, let Adam have the best." He then looked at Lady Wisdom and smiled - as He was looking at His best companion. Taking a rib out of Adam, he created a companion similar to Lady Wisdom - beautiful, tender, supportive, submissive, intelligent, loving and caring. WIFE is thus a wonderful and delicate gift from LORD.

Now, does that explain why Lady Wisdom is personified as She?

PS: The creation of WIFE is my version - you won't find supporting documentation elsewhere.

Proverbs 30

These are the words of Agur the son of Jakeh. 

The author begins by disavowing any special understanding, wisdom, or knowledge of the Holy on his own. He therefore insists that the message is coming directly from the LORD.

He then asks a series of rhetorical questions - the obvious answer to all are LORD; He established and controls the lands, the seas and the atmosphere. Agur then asked a difficult question, "What is the name of His son?" 

We are never supposed to twist the words of the LORD. 
Proverbs 30:6 Do not add to his words,
    or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.
He then asks two things from the LORD, as long as he lives;
1. To give him his daily bread - not too much or not too little,
2. To preserve him from falsehood and lies - to maintain his integrity. 

We are told not to meddle in the affairs of another's household by slandering his servant. 

The author lists four kinds of particularly obnoxious sinners:
- those who dishonor and curse their parents,
- hypocrites who think themselves to be morally clean, 
- arrogant who look down on others, thinking of their superiority, 
- those who brutally plunder others. 

We are shown a series of graphic pictures of the greedy:
- the leech sucking blood and producing two offspring, both named "Give" and "Give"
- the grave, which never stops taking in those dead, 
- a woman with barren womb who never stops wanting a child, 
- the arid land that absorbs all those water,
- the fire that consumes everything. 

There are things that go beyond his understanding:
Proverbs 30:18 There are three things that are too amazing for me,
    four that I do not understand:
19 the way of an eagle in the sky,
    the way of a snake on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
    and the way of a man with a young woman.
An addition to the list is the picture of an adulteress. She is so promiscuous that her conscience is dead. Illicit sex means nothing more than eating a meal. She simply wipes her mouth and denies any wrongdoing. 

Those people who can cause the earth tremble:
- a servant who moves into the role of a king, 
- a godless fool with too much food to eat, 
- a woman desperate for love, 
- a maidservant who takes the place of her mistress. 

We are then shown four animals that compensate for their small size and lack of strength, who still manage to thrive despite their limitations:
- Ants
- Coneys,
- Locust, 
- Lizards. 

The author uses three impressive animals to compare the noble appearance and regal bearing of a king:
- Lion, 
- Roosters,
- He-goat

Those closing remarks remind us that acting the part of a king is appropriate for a king and disastrous for a fool. Those planning evil against innocent could get punched in the nose. A person foolish enough to aggravate an angry person is sparking conflict. 

My Thoughts
In the New Testament, Jesus Christ answers these questions of Agur in John 3:13.
When Agur asked, "What is His name?" Jesus answered, "Father" in Matthew 6:9 and in Mark 14:36.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Proverbs 29

King Solomon had much to say in his proverbs about the behavior and responsibilities of rulers and kings - jewels today's leaders could use in leading others.

The opening verse talks about obstinacy in resisting LORD's will - true for those stiff necked folks.

We meet those righteous, the man who loves wisdom, the companion of prostitutes, the prudent king, the flatterer, the just judge, mockers, bloodthirsty, and the ruler who opens his ears to listen lies.

LORD is credited for giving insight:
Proverbs 29:13 The poor and the oppressor have this in common:
    The LORD gives sight to the eyes of both.
Next we meet the poor and the deceitful, the pious king, the insolent servant, the humiliation of the proud. We are told about the enemies of the thief - it turns out they are his own accomplices.

We are reminded that the LORD is the One and only righteous judge.
Proverbs 29:26 Many seek an audience with a ruler,
    but it is from the LORD that one gets justice.
The rivalry between the righteous and wicked is penned here as the closing verse. 

My Thoughts
If we see injustice, our best bet is to reach out to the LORD - He is the righteous judge. Of course, He will direct us what to do, and we are supposed to follow those instructions. It is virtually impossible to find a human judge who makes decisions impartially. 

Proverbs 28

Proverbs Chapter 28 has 28 verses, and these are marvelous proverbs for all times. Each verse is an individual statement with almost no connection to the adjacent one.

The opening verse talks about being bold. We are then told the circumstance that brews several leaders. Next, we encounter a gracious promise - those who seek the LORD will find true understanding in all things.
Proverbs 28:5 Evildoers do not understand what is right,
    but those who seek the LORD understand it fully.
In LORD's sight, a poor righteous man is better than an unrighteous rich man. We are led towards the usurer, who amasses wealth by unprofitable conduct, and the prosperity of the righteous.

Those who fear the LORD are blessed, a wicked ruler is a curse, and a murderer is generally execrated. The faithful man is blessed, and it is not good to be a corrupt judge. We are not supposed to rob our parents, and be greedy. It is foolishness to trust one's own heart.
Proverbs 28:26 Those who trust in themselves are fools,
    but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.
We see the importance to being a charitable man, and the curse of not being one. Whenever those wicked are elevated, it is considered a public evil, and when they perish, the righteous thrive.

My Thoughts
King Solomon, the wisest and the richest man, tells us in his proverbs that certain seemingly undesirable things are far better than their more attractive counterparts. It is interesting to see how King Solomon peels off that masquerade.
Proverbs 15:16,
Proverbs 15:17,
Proverbs 16:8,
Proverbs 17:1, and
Proverbs 16:19 were good examples.
Here, we see Proverbs 28:6 belonging to the same family.

When I look back at my life, I can see how foolish I used to be in my 20's and 30's - trusting in my own capacity and strength. Once I came to know about the LORD and His love, Proverbs 28:26 blew my mind away.

Proverbs 27

The chapter starts with a warning against procrastination as we don't the outcome of a day. We are not to praise ourselves.

If a person truly loves another person and if in a certain situation a rebuke is required, rather thank keeping his love secret, he will rebuke him for that error. This cannot be seen in the case of those who are not faithful.

If we are being kissed too many times, without being wounded, watch out - it may be an enemy in disguise.
Proverbs 27:6 Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
    but an enemy multiplies kisses.
When we are hungry, even bitter food tastes delicious. Those who wander from LORD's way should not expect to receive LORD's blessing and backing in those things they do.

Next few verses are about friendship and the pleasantness of a friend. We are warned not to approach a relative when disaster strikes. During such times, we are better off approaching someone nearby, rather than requesting help from a (far away) relative.

Those who are prudent see danger and take refuge. Warning is given to those who act as a surety for a stranger or immoral woman. We again meet the quarrelsome wife, who is quite difficult to deal with.

Stimulating discussions on important topics - especially related to God, among friends can upgrade the knowledge and effectiveness of everyone involved - it sharpens everyone.

We are told that one's life reflect the heart - the condition of one's heart indicates one's true character.
Proverbs 27:19 As water reflects the face,
    so one’s life reflects the heart.
People are tested by their praise and two things that never satisfied are death and human eyes. A fool's folly cannot be cured by humans.

Those final verses of the chapter encourage property owners to give timely and due attention to their flocks - by means of providing food, clothing, and care. When properly managed, the flock will reproduce and multiply.

My Thoughts
The most dangerous sin of procrastination is the neglect of the arrival of Jesus Christ. One senior class Sunday school teacher once said, "It is okay to lead a sinful life - the Bible says we can repent in the end." I was amused at this statement and my immediate question (in my own mind) was, "Do you happen to know when that 'end' time for repentance is?"

Those final verses of this chapter refer to shepherding a christian church.

Proverbs 26

The first twelve verses of this chapter portray the character and behavior of fools - who give no consideration to LORD and His words. Here we meet the arrogant man, to whom we are not supposed to answer according to his folly. It also talks about those who use the services of these fools, or follow these fools. These fools seem to be wise in their own eyes.

Then we meet the slothful man making inane excuses for not working and going nowhere. They appear to be wise in their own eyes as well.

We are warned about those fights that do not concern us. Next, we are cautioned about deceiving our neighbor.
Proverbs 26:18 Like a maniac shooting
    flaming arrows of death
19 is one who deceives their neighbor
    and says, “I was only joking!”
Gossips and talebearers are rebuked - they are essentially the ingredients which fuel a quarrel.

Finally, we meet an interesting crowd - those who mask evil and hatred in their hearts with deceitful words on their lips. Their true color will be revealed sooner or later - it is just a matter of time. They fall into those pits they have dug for their own trap, and the stone they attempted to roll upon others will eventually crush themselves.

My Thoughts
Fools - we can meet them in our own churches - and ironically, at many places they hold leadership roles and make vital decisions. Imagine mixing alcohol with these fools, and anyone can predict their behavior. 

Proverbs 25

In the Divine game, LORD's mystery is quite glorious - it is concealed and He wants us humans to search it out.

We are told to avoid contentions, and never to exalt ourselves.
Proverbs 25:6 Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence,
    and do not claim a place among his great men;
We should never betray our neighbor's confidence. Soon we meet the faithful ambassador, and few similes encouraging careful choice of words. Next we are taught and reminded about moderation.
17 Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house -
    too much of you, and they will hate you.
Lies against a neighbor are discussed, followed by the importance of feeding our enemy. The quarrelsome wife similar to chapter 21 serves as a warning to brawling, and we hear about the good news from a distant land. We are advised not to search out matters that are too deep.

Finally, we are told about the danger of a man who lacks self control.