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Sunday, December 8, 2019

Daily Devotion for July 21, 2014

<i>Solomon’s Dream </i> by Luca Giordano ca. 1680.
Solomon’s Dream by Luca Giordano ca. 1680. Solomon, allowed by God to make one request, asks for wisdom.



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Lord's Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.


Prayer for the Morning

Heavenly Lord, you have brought me to the beginning of a new day. As the world is renewed fresh and clean, so I ask you to renew my heart with your strength and purpose. Forgive me the errors of yesterday and bless me to walk closer in your way today. This is the day I begin my life anew; shine through me so that every person I meet may feel your presence in my soul. Take my hand, precious Lord, for I cannot make it by myself. Through Christ I pray and live,


Prayer of Thanks

Thank you, oh source of all abundance, for surrounding me with good things. But help me to remember that nothing of earthly value owns timeless truth. Let your immeasurable blessings transform how I perceive material benefits. Teach me to appreciate unchanging treasures: the wealth of your compassion, the grandeur of your wisdom, and the richness of reconciliation. Lighten my selfishness with simple faith and humble gratitude.


To See Christ - Meditation

Oh holy Christ, teach me to recognize your face in the people you put into my life today.



Let me not forget my prayers as I go out into the world. Holy Spirit, be with me, and let me praise you and remember you in my every action and thought, for the entire day long. In Christ's name I ask this,


Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.

Initial “Q” from an illuminated German Psalter, ca. 1120.
Initial “Q” from an illuminated German Psalter, ca. 1120.
Blue Latin Cross

Proverbs 1: 7, 29-33 (NKJV)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
But fools despise wisdom and instruction.

         *         *         *

Then they will call on me, but I will not answer;
They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me.

Because they hated knowledge
And did not choose the fear of the Lord,
They would have none of my counsel
And despised my every rebuke.

Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way,
And be filled to the full with their own fancies.

For the turning away of the simple will slay them,
And the complacency of fools will destroy them;

But whoever listens to me will dwell safely,
And will be secure, without fear of evil.

Notes on the Scripture

The Wisdom of Solomon - Wise and Foolish People in Proverbs (1)

(Note: Since our study of the life of Solomon has concluded, I thought it would be interesting to examine, at least briefly, the books of the Bible he authored. Proverbs is a long book (31 chapters). It is non-narrative and frequently repetitive, without any real organization, so it doesn't lend itself to a either straight read-through or to a synopsis. But a major unifying theme is the difference between wisdom and foolishness: so we can get a good flavor of the book by looking at some how Proverbs distinguishes the wise person from the fool.)

The starting point of wisdom, according to Proverbs, is “fear of the Lord”; and this theme permeates the entirety of Proverbs, returning again and again as a thread that ties together the various epithets of wisdom. We read it in the opening (1:7) and repeatedly thereafter (e.g. 9:10). Prov. 2:6 teaches, “For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.” This fear (Heb. yir’ah) encompasses not simply a state of being afraid of what God might do in His wrath, but also a sense of piety, respect, and reverence. A reprise of this subject gives us the beautiful verses in Chapter 3: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Prov. 3:5-6)

creature from illuminated Bible

What, then, is the root cause of a fool’s folly? “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Prov. 1:7) The Hebrew poetic device of parallelism – in this case a parallelism of contrast – implies that the fool’s fundamental error is insufficient reverence for God. Not fearing God is foolish in and of itself, of course, as practically every book in the Old Testament demonstrates, but it takes an additional dimension in Proverbs: Not fearing God, who is the source of wisdom, makes one act stupidly in the secular world as well as in relationship to the deity.

Respect for one’s parents and elders plays a part, also. There is no direct reference to the fifth commandment in Proverbs, but Solomon (speaking as a generic father) links fear of God to respectful attention to the parent. “My son, if thou wilt receive my words . . . then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” (Prov. 2:1-5) Again in Ch. 4:1-11, the father is depicted as the intermediary for the wisdom that comes from God. The wise man thus listens to his father’s teaching; the fool ignores it.

The ability to receive instruction does not just apply to the teachings of a parent; the wise man will profit from Godly correction, whatever its source: “Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee; rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.” (Prov. 9:8) (Although this treats the man giving the correction, it also has much to say about the person receiving it.)

Solomon himself is an object lesson in the secular rewards that might come as a by-product of piety; for when Solomon asked only for wisdom, the Lord grants him “that which thou hast not asked, both riches and honor.” (1 Kings 3:13) Material prosperity and happiness during one’s life on earth were more a part of the old covenant than the new, so accordingly, one sees frequent promises of material reward from wise behavior. E.g., Prov. 8:18, “Riches and honor are with me . . . .” (But note that Proverbs repeatedly counsels against excessive greed.)

. . . cont'd tomorrow.

endless knot

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Galatians 5:26 (J.B. Phillips NT): Let us not be ambitious for our own reputations, for that only means making each other jealous.

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