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Posts Tagged ‘Proverbs’

Gracious words are a honeycomb,
    sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

Proverbs 16: 24 (NIV)

Commentary by St. Ambrose of Milan:

The sea is holy Scripture which has within it profound meanings and the mysterious depths of the prophets. Into this sea many rivers have entered. Delightful and clear are these streams. These fountains are cool, springing up into life everlasting.”‘ There, too, are “pleasant words, like honeycomb,” and courteous conversations which water souls with the sweetness of moral commands. The streams of holy Scripture are diverse; you know that which you should drink from first, second, and last.

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The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside!
    I shall be killed in the streets!”

Comment, from the Lutheran Study Bible:Sluggard. Lazy person…“There is a lion outside!”  Asian lions would not be found on a city street but in the remote wooded areas of Isarael; the excuse is ridiculous. Lazy people will use the most unreasonable fears to excuse their behavior.  I shall be killed.  Literally, “I will be murdered”-as if a person who asked him to go to work had criminal intent  These words further undercut the sluggard’s  credibility.”

I think that comment is correct and so this proverb is satire, but here is another take on the verse.  Let’s say one of those Asian lions did come into town.  Now reread the Proverbs verse.  He is willing to talk about the danger but only think about himself. It’s like the Yiddish story of a group of survivors of  ship that is sunk and a group arel in a life boat.  The life boat is being swamped in a storm and everyone is bailing water out.  But one man, sitting on his bench, takes out a drill and starts to drill a hole underneath him. Someone yells at him, Why are doing that?!  You’ll help the boat go down.  The man responds, “But it’s underneath my seat.”  He thought he was doing good in his utter self-centeredness. I shall be killed in the streets“.  He takes no measures to warn his neighbors.  He does not try to wound or kill the threat with a weapon he may have. He does not call out to his neighbors, Hey, let’s do something together!  He does not even think through the danger and instead of going in the streets, goes on the roof and throw some food to draw the lion away from the town…we do much talking and writing about the dangers we face.  We watch important television shows, blog on important blogs and get all concerned.  But the sluggard knows the danger is outside and does not want to face the danger, and all the while laud and praise, say, our soldiers and sailors.  It’s all talk.  We are informed and think we have done something by being informed. I know that’s important, but inaction is laziness.  “There is a lion outside!”  I may have to make an effort to fight the wrong with the Lord’s Word. Like the Chinese proverb: “Don’t curse the darkness.  Light a candle.”  The Light is shining in the darkness.  We are living in a moonless dark night of the world, but it makes no sense to those in danger in the night, for the Church not to use the light that has been given to us that we are holding and holds us.  

Lo! the hosts of evil ’round us,
Scorn Thy Christ, assail His ways.
From the fears that long have bound us,
Free our hearts to faith and praise.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
For the living of these days,
For the living of these days.

Save us from weak resignation,
To the evils we deplore.
Let the search for Thy salvation,
Be our glory evermore.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
Serving Thee Whom we adore,
Serving Thee Whom we adore.

(Hymn:  God of Grace, God of Glory)

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Proverbs 27: 5-6

Better is open rebuke
than hidden love.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend;
profuse are the kisses of an enemy.

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Johann von Staupitz (ca. 1469–1524), was vicar-general of the Augustinian Order in Germany and friend of Martin Luther, was born in Saxony. He studied at the universities in Leipzig and Cologne and served on the faculty at Cologne. In 1503 he was called by Frederick the Wise to serve as dean of the theological faculty at the newly founded University of Wittenberg. There he encouraged Luther to attain a doctorate in theology and appointed Luther as his successor to professor of Bible. During Luther’s early struggles to understand God’s grace, it was Staupitz who counseled Luther to focus on Christ and not on himself. (The Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH)

Reflection:  When the publication of the 95 Theses spread throughout Europe, then Luther was in middle of a raging storm.  He corresponded with his father confessor.

On the twenty-fifth of November he sent word to Spalatin:

I am expecting the curses of Rome any day. I have everything in readiness. When they come, I am girded like Abraham to go I know not where, but sure of this, that God is everywhere.

Staupitz wrote Luther from Salzburg in Austria:

The world hates the truth. By such hate Christ was crucified, and what there is in store for you today if not the cross I do not know. You have few friends, and would that they were not hidden for fear of the adversary. Leave Wittenberg and come to me that we may live and die together. The prince [Frederick] is in accord. Deserted let us follow the deserted Christ. (From Here I Stand by Roland Bainton)

Up until his death, Fr. von Staupitz, wrote to Luther and he to him.  We do not know if Luther’s dear father superior ever accepted the evangelical doctrine but he sure seems to have known them and lived them.  It is written in Proverbs 17: 17:

A friend loves at all times,
   and a brother is born for adversity.

And from Proverbs, 18: 24:

A man of many companions may come to ruin,
   but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Staupitz was obviously Luther’s mentor and with that Luther’s  friend and brother in Christ.  This is a good commemoration to thank and remember mentors in our lives, who have been closer than a brother and a brother born for adversity and hung in there with you.  All the Facebook friends in the world do not one dear brother in Christ Jesus make.  Between Martin and Johannes stood Jesus Christ and the dear Father Johannes showed Martin Jesus Christ that Martin could see Him in the clear Word of Scripture.  “Lord, keep us steadfast in Your Word”, penned and sang Luther.  He probably knew he was kept steadfast by his dear father confessor as a mentor has so done for you.

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