Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Ten Commandments In Proverbs 1:8-33

Some time ago I noticed something that seemed almost all-encompassing in Proverbs 1 and later I determined it was a loose linkage with the Old Covenant, recalling the giving of the Law in Exodus 20. Here’s how I think it fits in the context of the introduction to Proverbs:

ONE: Do not have other gods besides God himself... Verses 1:20-23 warns us to heed Wisdom’s lone call and rebuke. Her thoughts and teachings will then be made known. Otherwise we’ll flounder without a sole focus on her i.e. personified Wisdom which is from God.

TWO: the longest commandment--and with it, consequences; and connected with the previous--Do not make idols or worship other things besides God. The created thing is pathetic in competitive context with the Creator. In verse 1:13 the plunder of others is placed as paramount. God doesn’t get a look in.

THREE: Do not misuse the name of God... when we call on God (vs. 1:28, 30), at times too late, we can expect to be ignored for a time. We’ve sown our own consequences. We’ve misused God and disrespected his name when we expect to snap our fingers and have our desperate pleas answered when in reality we’ve not walked at all with him.

FOUR: Keep the Sabbath day holy... in one word, rest. Verses 1:16-19 imply a hastening for ill-gotten gain--at the expense of peace. This evil bent in the intent of some “takes away the life of those who get it,” i.e. it takes away their peace.

FIVE: Honour mother and father... Proverbs is full of this theme, and fittingly it proposes this right up front in this section (i.e. v. 1:8) after the Purpose and Theme of Proverbs in verses 1:1-7.

Our fathers’ instruction and mothers’ teaching are to be honoured above all else when in alignment with God, but at times this will be quite apart from his will. There enters a challenge. God is to be the final arbiter of our actions. His will be done we pray!

SIX: Do not murder... in verses 1:11-12, 16 we see the murderous intent of those seeking to ambush some poor soul with feet swift to shed blood. Proverbs, of course, provides the stark imagery to edify us on what not to do.

SEVEN: Do not commit adultery... with irony, because this theme is both dotted and detailed throughout Proverbs 1–9, it’s difficult to link this, the only single commandment not obviously positioned in Proverbs 1. The harlot uses the same cunning rhetoric, however, as the Invitation of Sinful Men in the chapter in question.

EIGHT: Do not steal... The promise of the thief who pulls us in tow toward material gain in verse 1:13 (TNIV) viz, “... we will get all sorts of valuable things and fill our houses with plunder.” We’d steal what is materially important to others and God--a grievous sin.

NINE: Do not lie... in verse 1:10f (and throughout this section) we get a glimpse of an important truth. If we keep the company of liars we’ll tend to be ensnared in the very same behaviour.

TEN: Do not covet... in verses 1:13-14 the intention is to focus upon and crave the things of others. Therein lies another warning of the thing not to do.

Proverbs, especially in this section, so effectively warns us through imagery we can identify with. If we only heed the teaching of mother and father, investing with Wisdom, heeding her rebukes, we’ll “live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm” (v. 33 TNIV).

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