Lecture 11: Proverbs 15:30 - 16:15

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Lesson

The final part of the previous lecture.

Proverbs 15:30 - 16:15

Transcription

Course: Proverbs

Lecture: The Wrong Way and the Right Way – 15:30-16:15 Part 2

I. Prologue – Proverbs 15:30-33

(Note: I am hoping that through the exegesis of these coming passages, you will understand the lenses by which you need in order to understand the Proverbs. You have to know that there are Janus’s and inclusio’s and chiasms. These are all part of how the poets composed their materials. This also includes how Hebrew is used to reflect these aspects. You need to take on these lenses in order to see meanings and purposes, which otherwise you might miss. Davis said in order to know what a text says and means you need to know how it says it.)

A. The Translation

We will now look at Proverbs 15:30-16:15. ‘Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones. Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise. Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding. Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the Lord, and humility comes before honor. To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue. All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord. Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. The Lord works out everything to its proper end— even the wicked for a day of disaster. The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished. Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the Lord evil is avoided. When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s way, he causes their enemies to make peace with them. Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice. In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. The lips of a king speak as an oracle, and his mouth does not betray justice. Honest scales and balances belong to the Lord; all the weights in the bag are of his making. Kings detest wrongdoing, for a throne is established through righteousness. Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value the one who speaks what is right. A king’s wrath is a messenger of death, but the wise will appease it. When a king’s face brightens, it means life; his favor is like a rain cloud in spring.’

These verses are a unity. Skladny in 1962 says that chapters10:1 – 22:17 is divided into two halves. There is a collection 2a and a collection 2b. The first half is shown to be antithetical while the latter is royal proverbs. I believe the break comes at 15:30 and this should really be the chapter division. So 15:30-16:15 becomes a unit and in this collection, it is my observation that these are the lines which you separate out the different proverbs. Each proverb here stands as an individual proverb, yet in joining them together, you get a deeper context. So 15:30-33 has a tone of a prologue. It comes with a tone of accepting that which will follow. Note here that a key word between verses 16:1-9 is the word ‘I Am’ and is obviously a unit and we will see that more and more with poetics. Every verse in these nine verses mentions God, except for verse 8. And in 16:10-15, a key word is ‘king’ except verse 2. If you look at 16:16, we get wisdom again. This is a single-line, educative proverb: ‘How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver!’ This picks up the motif of chapter 3:13 where wisdom is better than silver and gold. This is in tune with the prologue. There is a catch word or inclusion in 15:30 where it says ‘light’ in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart and then in 16:15, ‘In the light of the king’s face is life.’ The messenger is the wise person and it is the light in his eyes that speaks of his vitality and his joy and his life. He is a living person. This light brings joy and gives health to the bones. In 16:15 it is the light of the king’s face. So it begins with the light of the wise and it ends with the light of the king’s face. This is the inclusio around the whole of this passage. This is so brilliantly put together in its poetics that it took Solomon to do it. The problem with the Hebrew poetics, it is difficult to see it in the English language. Some of these ‘catch words’ cannot be properly translated.

B. The Structure

Now turning to the rhetorical outline of 15:30, I would argue that 15:30-33 is the prologue to this section and more particularly to 16:1-15. You have four proverbs that are like the prologue of chapter 1:8-9:18. The first doctrine that he is trying to teach us is that ‘I AM’ the Lord is sovereign and his rule is moral. He rules over everything according to justice and values that shown in Proverbs. The next one about the king is how God exercises this sovereignty. How is this sovereignty implemented? He argues that it is done through the king; the king is a mediatorial agent who has the same moral sensibilities of God and the same power of God, of life and death. Just like in chapter 4 when he makes the comment, ‘I was a son to my father.’ When he says this, he means that he was a real son. The Septuagint adds, ‘I was a good son,’ to make it clearer. So when it talks about a son, it means a real son as when it talks about a wife; it means a real wife, a good wife. The same applies for the king; he is not a perversion but a real king and of course the only one that fleshes this out is our Lord Jesus Christ who is the King of Kings and Lord of Lord. So we see that Jesus is the one that mediates the kingdom of God today. He exercises God’s sovereignty and God’s morality.

C. The Unity of the Chiastic Connections

The NIV added messenger to help make it clear but it is literally, ‘light in the eyes brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones, whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise. In Hebrew the word news (shama’) is the same word to give ear. So what is made heard the good report of what is heard. So you have what is heard and then you have the hearing and these go together. You have the one delivering the good news and then you have the recipient of the good news. This catchword joins verses 30 and 31. So the two quatrains of verses 30 and 31 becomes a form of chiastic construction. So the theme is the messenger in verse 30 and the recipient in verse 31 and the motif are the body parts of eyes, heart, bones and ears. Proverbs 15:32 and 33 are also connected by the Hebrew word for instruction (musar). Those who disregard musar hate themselves. And verse 33 we have wisdom’s instruction is to fear the I Am. So you see what the instruction is and that is to fear the Lord. This is foundational to all instructions and all wisdom. As shama links verses 30 and 31, musar lines verses 32 and 33. Then you have correction in verse 31 and again in verse 32, thus this again is a chiastic connection between the two quatrains. All four verses are tightly linked together. So there is a chiasm in 30 and 31, another one in 31 and 32 and yet another one in 32 and 33. This is not accidental in my judgement. This is a unity of accepting instruction about God and then the King. Study the following:

 

Instruction – musar

News – shama’

30

Light in a messenger's eyes brings joy to the heart, and good news [שׁמע ] gives health to the bones.

31

Whoever heeds [שׁמע] life-giving correction [תּ֝וֹכַ֗חַת] will be at home among the wise.

32

Those who disregard discipline [מ֖וּסָר] despise themselves, but those who heed [שׁמע ] correction [תּ֝וֹכַ֗חַת] gain understanding.

33

Wisdom's instruction [ מ֖וּסָר] is to fear I AM, and humility comes before honor.

 

The Two quatrains (i.e. Introduction) linked by the:

 

Catchwords: שׁמע links 30 and 31, a chiasm - news

 

Catchword תּ֝וֹכַ֗חַת  links 31 and 32, a chiasm) - correction

 

Catchword מ֖וּסָר links 32 and 33 - instruction

So the light in the eyes in verse 30 is used to signify vitality and joy. In Proverbs it is the wise sage that has this vitality and joy or a wise disciple. We are not sure whether it means the sage or the disciple. So you have joy to the heart and this is paralleled with health to the bones. And therefore the light of the eyes is paralleled with good news. The light of the eyes refers to the sage who is doing the teaching. In the next quatrain, his message is accepted by the wise and rejected by fools. So whoever heeds life-giving instruction verses those who disregard discipline will be at home among the wise. The last thing you hear at night and the first thing you hear in the morning are the words of the wise. You are constantly living in the context of wisdom. This is all a gift of God, he enables us to see and to hear along with the great gift of faith is a gift of God. The ‘I AM’ has both ears that hear and eyes that see. The next quatrain deals with rejection and reception in verses 32 and 33, ‘those who disregard instruction hate themselves, but those who heed correction gain understanding.’ Then we have the reception in verse 33, ‘wisdom’s instruction is to fear I AM, and humility comes before honor.’ So humility comes before honor; in other words, it is an issue of suicide versus survival. I believe that our culture is on a path of suicide with abortion and same sex marriage and with casual sex; where we are headed is death. The conclusion: immediately the good news is going to be the message about ‘I AM’ and his rule and about the mediatorial king.

II. I AM’s Sovereign and Moral Rule – Proverbs 16:1-9

A. The Translation

To human beings belong the plans of the heart, but from I AM comes the proper answer of the tongue. A person may think all their ways are pure, but motives are weighed by I AM. Commit to I AM whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. I AM works out everything to its proper end -- even the wicked or a day of disaster. I AM detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished. Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of I AM evil is avoided. When I AM takes pleasure in anyone's way, he causes their enemies to make peace with them. Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice. In their hearts human beings plan their course, but I AM establishes their steps.

So you see that ‘I AM’ occurs in every verse, except verse 8 which tells us that you might be righteous and have very little. This implies that there is a time when the wicked does have health, wealth and prosperity and the righteous don’t. Looking broadly you can see in chapter 16:1-9 that God is referenced and you can see an inclusio between verse 1 and verse 9. In verse 1 to human beings (Adam) belong the plans maarak of the hearts. So verse 1, ‘to human beings belong the plans maarak of the heart,’ and verse 9 says basically the same thing, ‘in their hearts human beings plan their course.’ Both begin and end with the human race; it is planning which becomes the frame that surrounds it. There are two sections within this frame with verses 1-3 which deals with God’s sovereignty and verses 5 – 8 deals with his morality and verse 4 is a Janus that links these two sections together. Verse 9 is linked with verse one through heart, human beings and plan but it is also linked with the concluding section of verse 3 by establish (kun), you will establish your plans and then you have in verse 9, ‘I AM establishes their steps.’ So it is God who establishes it. Look at the following:

 

English

1

To human beings belong the plans of the heart, but from I AM comes the answer or ma’aneh of the tongue.

3

Commit to I AM whatever you do or ma’aseh, and he will establish your plans.

9

In their hearts human beings plan their course, but I AM establishes their steps

 

 

 

Hebrew

1

ְאָדָ֥ם מַֽעַרְכֵי־לֵ֑ב וּ֝מֵיְהוָ֗ה מַעֲנֵ֥ה לָשֽׁוֹן׃

3

גֹּ֣ל אֶל־יְהוָ֣ה מַעֲשֶׂ֑יךָ וְ֝יִכֹּ֗נוּ מַחְשְׁבֹתֶֽיךָ׃

9

לֵ֣ב אָ֭דָם יְחַשֵּׁ֣ב דַּרְכֹּ֑ו וַֽ֝יהוָ֗ה יָכִ֥ין צַעֲדֹֽו׃

The plans maarak is a different word than chasob (to consider) but it means basically the same thing. You see in verse 3, establish kun and a plan in verse 9. These are very carefully linked together catch words. Verses 1 and 3 are together with the conclusion in verse 9 which frames it off. The next section is all about the king and these catch words unify the material.

As a sort of an outline for Proverbs 16:1-9, we have I AM’s sovereignty and the human responsibility. So you have God’s sovereignty over human plans. Verse 9 is saying the same thing that we plan our course but the Lord’s is the one who finally establishes what actually happens to it. In verse 4 and 5 through 7, we have I AM’s morality and human accountability. So in verse 5, ‘the Lord detests all the proud of heart’ and in verse 7, ‘when the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s ways.’ In between is verse 4a is a Janus because 4a looks back to his sovereignty where the Lord works everything out to its proper end and then his morality which is in fact a delay of the Lord. This is the transition from his sovereignty to his morality. Then 4b becomes his morality, and then another inclusio that goes back to verse 3, stating in verse 9 that I AMs sovereignty and human responsibility.

B. Exegesis of Verses 1-4

This is the good news, there is a God who is ruling history according to values which we can live within and when you live within this framework, you will live. Proverbs shows us this as it is meant to be ‘chewed’ on, to be thought through and prayed through. There are new things in every verse so it is meant to be studied. I have to keep going back because each word has depth within every verse. Back to verse 1, ‘to human beings belong the plans of the heart, but from I am comes the answer or ma’aneh of the tongue.’ In verse 3, ‘commit to I AM whatever you do or ma’aseh.’ In verse 2, ‘a person may think all their ways are pure, but motives are weighted by I AM. Commit to the Lord whatever you do ma’aseh and he will establish your plans. There ae two concerns: answer and do; it is what you do and what you say. There is only a difference of one letters between ma’aneh and ma’aseh. The catchword is plans. We have an escalation from uncertain outcome in verse 1 to a certain outcome in verse 3. We have human beings or Adam; they are earthlings or mortals over against the eternal. So to the humans belong the plans of the heart but from I AM comes the answer of the tongue. In this dance, the earthling takes the first step and the human is initiating where history will go and the plans means to arrange; to arrange your thoughts. I have already said that the heart represents the volition and the disposition. Since it is from the Lord in from I AM, it has to refer to what is good and effective, for God does not author evil. God has the last and best word in what is actually said. Verse 2 is linked to verse 1, being a person and human beings in verse 1. The synonym for human is adam and then the individual or iesh. Human is used as a generic where individual isn’t.

They are linked by the heart and the spirit; these are the driving forces; both of which come from the inner person. The Hebrew word for spirit is ruach. This is the dynamic vitality that mores a person. It is really saying in verse 2 that God weighs the wind; an oxymoron. And weighs here means to measure or gauge but of course wind can’t be weighed but you can weigh the motives of a person. As an individual, we think that we are ethically pure; we think that we speak and act with pure motives, but this is a delusion. We must depend on God to think and act ethically and this will be established as part of his eternal plan. We have to commit our ways to the Lord and live by faith. So you can’t go it alone; it’s impossible because we all know how sinful we really are and God sees the reality of that. God establishes ethical truths as he judges it and whatever is pure and ethical will last for eternity and that is why the church has endured all of these years. In verse 3, we are to commit to the Lord. The Hebrew is to roll upon the Lord. What we can’t do, faith in God will do so we overcome our limitations by trusting him to do his purposes through us. So we conclude here: speak and act with pure motives, but recognize human delusion. Depend on God to think and act ethically.

We come to the Janus of verse 4 with 4a being linked to verses 1 – 3 by the word ma’aneh or answer. ‘The Lord works out everything to its proper end – even the wicked for a day of disaster.’ The word ‘proper end’ is the same word for answer. ‘All’ and ‘everything’ is Kol in Hebrew. This is linked to verse 5 by Kol or ‘all’ in the verse, ‘I AM detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.’ The catch word here is kol (everything and all) and the semantics is the wicked and proud of heart + punishment. Verse 3 has the notion of Kol even though it is not there, but it is repeated in verse 5. So God is sovereign over everything and his morality is to punish evil. This is very similar to what Romans 8:28 really says: ‘We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him.’ Normally, it is translated, ‘we know that all things work together for good for those who love God.’

C. Exegesis of 5-7

So we have I AM’s morality and human accountability shown in these verses.

 

Proverbs 16:5-7

5

I AM detests [תּוֹעֲבַ֣ת] all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.

toebah

6

Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for (יְכֻפַּ֣ר); through the fear of I AM evil is avoided.

kaphar

7

When I AM takes pleasure [רְצ֣וֹת ] in anyone's way, he causes their enemies to make peace with them.

reuth

 

 

 

Moral Sensibility: Detests and Takes Pleasure

 

Ethics: Retribution in verse 5 and Reward in verse 7

Detests in verse 5 is toebah in Hebrew. This is the same word for abomination. The proud of heart are those who think themselves better than God and who reject his Word. They go it alone apart from God. God assures that they will not go unpunished. In verse 6, sin is atoned for which is kaphar. This is done through love and faithfulness. I AM takes pleasure. It is through the fear of I AM that evil is avoided. Then when the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s way in verse 7, he causes their enemies to make peace with them. Pleasure is reuth in Hebrew. I believe that verses 5 and 7 are antithetical (directly opposite or opposed) and verse 6 is another Janus (this is pictured as two faces looking at opposite directions – it’s opposite.) So 6a looks back to verse 5 and 6b looks ahead to verse 7. Detests and takes pleasure are common words that are parallel (very similar and often happening at the same time) to each other. They are the antithesis of you hating something or delighting in something. So verse 5 deals with what he detests, verse 7 deals with what he take pleasure in. Verses 12 and 13 will pick this up again in ‘Kings detest wrongdoing, for a throne is established through righteousness’ and then in 13, ‘Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value the one who speaks what is right.’ And the king reflects the moral sensibility of the Lord. Detests and takes pleasure are normally paired together and not separated by a verse. But he wants a proverb in verse 6 that looks back and then looks ahead. The ethics are retribution in verse 5 and verse 7 is reward. He punishes evil and rewards good.

The Janus in verse 6 is forgiveness for those who are proud of heart in verse 5. So the point is how you get beyond your sin of verse 5; it is atoning. I remind you again that the Proverbs is concerned about ethics and in my own thinking; we know that atonement is necessary within the sacrificial system, but if you put your faith in what God said about the sacrificial system, you would also put your faith in the way you should behave. Therefore, if Jesus is who he says he is, then I have to accept his work and his teachings because I trust him. The way you atone for past sins by way of appeasing it, ethics toward your neighbor and the way you avoid future sin in verse 7 is through the Fear of the Lord because evil is avoided. Through love and faithfulness, we cover past sin with a new life style, and for the future it is avoided through the Fear of the Lord. We see that God’s judgement is rooted in God’s moral sensibility. God purges away the dross of human thoughts and deeds. He detests the proud of heart because they consider themselves a cut above God and others. This is the root cause of human unethical behavior because we believe that we are self-sufficient apart from God and at the time of punishment, God will be highly exhorted. In verse 6, love and faithfulness are virtues that inform us of true ethics and new ethical behavior replaces old unethical behavior. This complements the sacrifice to God for atonement. The average Christian knows a lot about the sacrificial system and doesn’t know enough about the Book of Proverbs and actual ethics. The Fear of I AM is the key to changed behavior and culture. In verse 7 we see that the righteous do not avenge themselves; they depend on God and he is the one who does it. God causes the enemies to make peace with him. He is the sovereign that we depend upon for good. In taking pleasure, he accepts the person into his benevolent presence and thus causes their enemies to make peace. This is what Isaac experienced with the Philistines in Genesis 26.

D. Exegesis of Verses 8 & 9

In verse 8 we have a caveat that is very important (Caveat means an explanation or warning that should be remembered when you are doing or thinking about something.) The genre of this book is to look at the end of the matter, but occasionally we get the warning that you have to keep that end in view. We are learning here that better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice. What the proverb is saying is that injustice may have much gain for a while. You can be righteous and have little because it has been taken by injustice from you. This is reality and the word ‘better’ here is a matter of life and death. The little righteous and much gain with injustice describes the ups and downs of world we live in where retribution and rewards are not necessarily immediate. We saw this in chapter 10 and verses 2-3. The Lord will not let the righteous go hungry. He frustrates the gain of the wicked as they have treasures for a while. So you have to look at the end of the matter. In Proverbs 16:9, ‘in their hearts human plan their course, but I AM establishes their steps.’ We again have human responsibility and God’s morality. A person may plan his road to the last detail, but he cannot implement his planning, unless it coincides with I AM’s ethical plan. He is deluded if he thinks he has unfettered control and can impose his will on every situation without limitation to make his plan a reality. Thus God has the last and soundest word.

Duration

57 min

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