Dec 052017
 

The BCaD post for 5th December 2017 quoted from Proverbs 10:1 which speaks about a wise son bringing joy to his father while a foolish son brings grief to his mother.

A fascinating question was asked – “any idea why the different parents are mentioned on the opposing sides?”

Here are some thoughts.

It’s first of all worth noting the context in which these words were written where there was much more emphasis on the male child – there are no comparable references to daughters in the book of Proverbs at all.

There is a recognition that both parents are involved in the teaching and instruction of a son – so we have:

  1. Proverbs 1:8 where a son is enjoined to listen to his father’s instruction and to not forsake his mother’s teaching
  2. Proverbs 6:20, similarly, calls on the son to keep his father’s commands and – again – to not forsake his mother’s teaching

There are three relevant references to the way in which sons behave and the impact on their parents:

  1. Proverbs 10:1 which – as noted above – speaks about a wise son bringing joy to his father while a foolish son brings grief to his mother
  2. Proverbs 15:20 which speaks again about a wise son bringing joy to his father while a foolish man despises his mother (so less about the impact on his mother but more about how he feels towards her)
  3. Proverbs 17:25 which speaks about a foolish son bringing grief to his father and bitterness to his mother – so here the resulting grief is felt by his father as opposed to his mother

(There are other references to fathers and mothers which add additional insight to this such as Proverbs 20:20, 23:22, 23:25, 28:24, 30:11, 30:17).

The contrast between Proverbs 10:1 and Proverbs 17:25 suggests that the actual distinction in terms of negative responses are not great but it is interesting that, overall, we see positive attributes (wisdom) being appreciated by his father while negative attributes (foolishness) affecting both parents.

Waltke suggests that we should not make too much of the distinction with the “father and mother” reference simply being a way of speaking about parents:

Word pairs may also involve common contrasts and/or broken, stereotyped phrases that may or may not include merisms such as “heaven” and “earth” in 3:16 [cited above]). In 10:1

bēn ḥākām yeśammaḥ-ʾāb
A wise son makes a father glad,
ûbēn kesîl tûgat ʾimmô
but a foolish son brings grief to his mother.

ḥākām “wise” and kesîl “fool” are common antithetic word pairs, and the phrase “father and mother” is a common broken, stereotyped phrase designating “parents” (1:8; 4:3; passim).

Bruce K. Waltke, The Book of Proverbs, Chapters 1–15, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 42–43.

Kitchen makes a similar argument:

The effect of the ‘wise son’ is that he makes his father ‘glad.’ The word describes a joy that affects the whole of a person: heart (Exod. 4:14; Ps. 19:8; 104:15), soul (Ps. 86:4), and eyes (Prov. 15:30).3 The effect of the ‘foolish son’ is that he brings his mother ‘grief.’ Such a son brings much hardship upon his parents (Prov. 17:21, 25; 19:13). Indeed, he not only hurts them; he personally ‘despises’ them (Prov. 15:20)!
The father and mother are mentioned separately, not because one is more susceptible to hurt and the other more prone toward joy, but as a literary device to indicate that the whole of the family shares in the follies and triumphs of other family members. No child can avoid bringing either joy or pain to his parent’s lives (Prov. 17:21, 25; 23:24–25; 28:7; 29:3). While an age of greater independence is desired by all, one never outgrows one’s responsibility to, or effect upon, one’s family. What capacity for pain we take on when we hold our first child in our arms! But, oh, how our opportunities for joys untold are expanded at the same time!

John A. Kitchen, Proverbs: A Mentor Commentary, Mentor Commentaries (Fearn, Ross-shire, Great Britain: Mentor, 2006), 214.

And these observations are consistent with what we see in the other references to the impact sons have on their parents.

So – on balance – I don’t think we should read too much into the distinctions but see them as speaking about different ways the behaviour of a son (and we can legitimately extend this to daughter) have on their parents. In a world where the long-term well being of parents was dependent on their children to care for them in later life – and with this responsibility primarily going to the eldest son – this was really important. As parents saw their son develop and grow so they would get an indication of how he would be able to take on the family business, how well he would care for them in later life.

With the many variations in family structures and social care provision we have in our culture today some of the ways in which this is worked out will vary – but it does encourage us to think about how our behaviour and attitudes are seen by our parents and what this says about how they will receive the care they need in later life.

Primarily it’s speaking about children and parents but it is good to recognise that how we are and how we behave can have positive and negative impacts on all those with whom we come into contact and, particularly, for those for whom we have some level of responsibility.

 

Nov 082017
 

Over the last few months – in posting thoughts from a “Bible Chapter a Day” – we have looked at 2 Corinthians as part of our survey of Paul’s letters and have just finished looking through Jeremiah and Lamentations where the prophet predicted the destruction of Jerusalem and laments over it.

Challenging times for Paul and the church as he rejoices in their response to his earlier letters but continues to have to defend himself against opposition; and challenging as we tracked the history of God’s people up to and into exile.

We’re going to take a break from Paul’s letters and Old Testament history – but will come back to them!

From Friday, we’re going to look at the one Gospel we haven’t looked at – the Gospel of Mark – and then look at the book of Proverbs.

Mark is the shortest Gospel, thought by many to be the first to be written. It is fast paced, challenging and presents Jesus as “the Messiah, the Son of God”.

Proverbs is a book of wise sayings that encourages people to “fear the Lord”; advocates choosing a way of wisdom as opposed to foolishness; speaks about how life “normally works” – even if it doesn’t always work out that way; provides guidance and insights for living.

Aug 262017
 

As we worked through 1 and 2 Kings we saw many ups and downs in the situation of God’s people – linked to the way in which they were following the path He had laid out for them or going their own way. And we left them having been taken away as captives into exile, with Jerusalem destroyed and the temple looted and burned. The story isn’t over but we are going to leave it there for a while!

We’re going to pick up the story in the New Testament again looking through Paul’s letters. The last one we looked at was 1 Corinthians where Paul was trying to address a number of issues that had been raised. His next letter was to the church at Philippi and he then wrote another to Corinth and so we’re going to look at those two letters next.

Paul wrote Philippians while a prisoner but writes with a message of joy, hope and encouragement and seeks to point the believers to Jesus.

His second letter to the church at Corinth is a very personal one  He reminds them again about Jesus, encourages them but also feels the need to defend himself against those who would try to undermine his work amongst them.

And then we’ll come back to the story of God’s people in the Old Testament. We’ll be working through Jeremiah, written by a prophet who lived in Jerusalem just before the exile. He speaks and writes to warn the people, he experiences deep grief and distress, he continues to speak after the city has been destroyed and the people taken into exile. A challenging and powerful book.

And we’ll then look at the five poems that comprise the book of Lamentations – speaking of the sorrow and anguish experienced after the city of Jerusalem fell and the people were taken away into captivity

But even there, there is hope in the God whose love never ends.

Jun 242017
 

We’re going to leave David and the people of Israel behind for a time – but will come back to them shortly – and pick up our journey through Paul’s letters.

We’re going to be looking at 1 Corinthians – a letter Paul wrote to a church that had many issues and challenges to which he wanted to respond. Even though it starts with him thanking God for them, he has to go on to remind them of things they had forgotten and to encourage them to focus on Jesus Christ. We’ll see something of what Paul has to say about Christian leadership, (im)moral behaviour, marriage, idols, worship, the gifts of the Spirit, unity, the resurrection and much more. Real challenges in the church at Corinth, and topics that are important for us to reflect on today.

1 Corinthians 12 [widescreen]

And then we’ll pick up the story of God’s people again – in 1 & 2 Kings – and see what happened after David and how the kings that followed him behaved – some well but many of them badly – resulting in God sending his people into exile in response to how far they had turned away from him. Sometimes depressing, with occasional lights in the darkness, but a reminder of the importance of staying faithful to God and what he calls us to be and to do.

1 Kings 827 [widescreen]

Apr 222017
 

After spending nearly five months of our “Bible Chapter a Day” (BCAD) project reflecting on the book of Psalms it’s just about time to move on. But let’s pause for a moment and reflect on what we have seen:

  • We’ve encountered wonderful words of praise as people rejoice in the greatness and majesty of God
  • We’ve seen people crying out to God from the depths of despair and asking for his blessing
  • We’ve seen expressions of sorrow and contrition as people recognised their failings and asked God for forgiveness
  • We’ve shared in appreciation for the word of God
  • We’ve entered into the reality of life – joy, despair, great civil occasions, recognition of death
  • and so much more

We’ve seen how people engage with God in many different ways depending on what is going on in their lives – and we have seen people prepared to be authentic and real with God and to express the depths of how they are feeling and what they are looking for God to do. Great examples to us in how we speak with, cry out to, praise our great God.

But, from Monday, we’re going to move on to look at two short letters in the New Testament and then two longer books in the Old Testament.

1 & 2 Thessalonians were written by Paul (with Silas and Timothy) to the church at Thessalonica some time after Paul had established a church there as recorded in Acts 17:1-4. Now he is writing to them again to encourage them, to answer some questions, to defend himself against accusations, to correct some misunderstandings about life after death and the return of Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 414 [widescreen]

1 & 2 Samuel picks up the narrative of the people of God from where we left them at the end of the book of Judges and Ruth. We encounter three key players – Samuel the last judge, Saul the first king and David who replaced him as king over the people of Israel. We will see how their stories intertwine; encounter intrigue, plot and deception; see Saul losing his position, David being chosen in his place and Saul being resentful; David being established as king and reigning although not always happily or without problems.

2 Samuel 52 [widescreen]

Let’s be open to hear what God has to say to us through His word.

 

Nov 212016
 

For our “Bible Chapter a Day” project (BCaD) we are moving focus to the Book of Psalms.

Often recognised as the “hymnbook” of the people of Israel this collection of poetic writings has been a real source of encouragement and blessing to many through the centuries.

They contain powerful expressions of worship, statements of faith, heart-felt prayers for God to act, expressions of sincere thankfulness, descriptions of God’s character and so much more.

While many of them could be seen as songs of praise there are also many which are “songs of lament” as people cry out to God from their depth of suffering and ask God to act and to restore.

They are open, they are honest, they give real insights into the human experience and show how people can relate to God in a powerful and authentic way.

They are generally classified into five “books”:

  • Psalms 1-41
  • Psalms 42-72
  • Psalms 73-89
  • Psalms 90-106
  •  Psalms 107-150

and approximately half of them are attributed to King David.

This is what will occupy us for the next five months or so.

ps-34v8

 

Oct 262016
 

In the BCaD project we’ve just finished the book of Judges.

And for those who are wondering what this project is about, it is reading a chapter of the Bible each day and posting a short summary / reflection from it on social media. And if you would like to get involved please feel free to do so.

So far we have worked through:

Old Testament:

  • Genesis
  • Exodus
  • Leviticus
  • Numbers
  • Deuteronomy
  • Joshua
  • Judges
  • Job

New Testament:

  • Matthew
  • Luke
  • Acts
  • Galatians

And as we read through the book of Judges we saw – from relatively good beginnings – things getting worse and worse as the people turned away from following God and did what they each thought was right.

To give us a glimmer of hope we’re going to look briefly at the book of Ruth, a story of a few individuals that took place:

In the days when the judges ruled, (Ruth 1:1a)

And as we do so we will see that God is still at work and that His purposes for His people will still be carried out. It ends with a family tree giving the people hope that a king would come – and a king who was able to bring the people back into a better relationship with God.ruh-4v22

 

And after thinking about the story of Ruth we’ll turn our attention to another of the Gospels, to John, that tells the story of a greater king, a king recognised by some as the king of Israel

john-1v49

But whose reign actually extends over the whole earth.

 

Oct 052016
 

The book of Joshua draws to a close with the words:

Israel served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had experienced everything the Lord had done for Israel. (Joshua 24:31)

And there is a hint that after Joshua, and after these elders who had experienced so much of God’s goodness, the people may turn away from God and choose another way, follow other gods.

And to see how the story develops we’re going to go on and work through the book of Judges – where we will see that, unfortunately, the people got into a cycle of turning away from God, of God punishing them, the people calling on God, God sending someone to rescue them.

A difficult time in the life of the people of Israel and one which ends with some sad words:

In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit. (Judges 21:25)

How had a moment of such promise turned into such a fragmented society with no real purpose and direction? We’ll find out as we trace the story over the next few weeks.

But in the darkness we will also see rays of light as a few people commit to serving and praising God

judges-5v3

Sep 112016
 

At the beginning of June we left the people of Israel at the edge of the land that God had promised to give them.

Moses, the man chosen by God to lead them out of Egypt and the one who had faithfully led them for 40 years, was dead and the people were on the brink of a new chapter in their story.

They had a new leader, Joshua, but the promise was an old one – they were to enter the land and to possess it.

And, from tomorrow (12th September 2016)  we’re going to pick up their story by working through the book of Joshua – and journey with them as they face the challenges of living in this new land. Many stories of success, but stories of failure and lack of obedience to God as well. Stories that encourage, stories that really challenge our thinking and understanding.

Deuteronomy leaves us with a note of confidence – in God and with the leader He has chosen:

Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him. So the Israelites listened to him and did what the Lord had commanded Moses. Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, (Deuteronomy 34:9–10)

In the first chapter we see God’s promise to be with them.

joshua-1v9

Let’s see how it works out.

Jul 212016
 

Having just completed reading through Job we are now (starting tomorrow – 22nd July) turning our attention to two books in the Bible which tell the story of Jesus and the early church – both written by Luke (a doctor and sometime companion of Paul) to provide an accurate account of what happened while Jesus was alive and immediately after He returned to heaven.

Luke introduces his first book with these words:

Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eye witnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. (Luke 1:1–4)

And he introduces his second book:

In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. (Acts 1:1–2)

So the book of Acts is presented as the “sequel” to the Gospel and telling the story of what Jesus continued to do – after His return to heaven – through his apostles and the power of His Spirit.

We will see stories of the birth of Jesus, a very little of His early life, His public ministry culminating in His death and resurrection. And we will see how the work that He started continued on as the church was born and started to grow. It is all centred around the person who died and was powerfully brought back to eternal life.

lk 24v6-7

As we read let’s be prepared to be challenged as we are confronted (again or for the first time) with the person and work of Jesus.