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Bible Thought Study Tools

Biblical Meditation

1My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee. 2Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye. 3Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart. 4Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman: 5That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words.

Proverbs 7:1-5

Solomon’s Command to Meditate

We hear a lot of talk these days about meditation. One of the common phrases we hear about meditation is that it means “to empty your mind.” I know that is an oversimplification of what is often meant by the word, but it is one you hear often. And that is very much in contradiction to what biblical meditation is.

The idea of the words translated as meditate in the Bible (Joshua 1:8, Psalms 1:2, etc.) is to turn over an idea in the mind. It is often compared to a cow chewing her cud. Spending a long time working out every nutrient from the grass and food. It means to think about and to allow that idea to affect your daily life. This is exactly what Solomon is speaking of here.

Solomon is telling his reader to keep (pay attention to, heed) and lay up (hide like a treasure) his words and commandments. Then he says that if you will keep his commandments, you will live.

Red bow tie tied around finger.

The reader is to bind his words and commandments on their fingers. (I wonder if that is where we get the idea of tying a string around the finger as a reminder?) And to write them on the heart. The idea is that it would be something you are carrying with you and constantly thinking about. That is what the Bible means when it says to meditate.

Example of Biblical Meditation

If you are around me long, you will find that I hear phrases that remind me of songs. Then, I must sing the song. And if I don’t have a song that quite fits, I will often just make one up.

You can know what I have been listening to recently because of the songs that immediately come to mind. That which is freshest is what has been filling my mind in recent days. It may be old fashioned hymns, gospel songs, cowboy music or Broadway show tunes.

Solomon Tells Us Why We Should Meditate

Solomon’s example is that of a young man being lured by a strange woman. As we learned a couple of days ago, when Solomon uses this term, he is talking about a woman that is not your wife. In this case he specifically says she is a prostitute.

Solomon implores the reader to heed the words of wisdom and understanding so that he can see beyond the temptation of the moment. We should have God’s Word hidden in our heart and ready to call to mind immediately in any situation.

By spending time in God’s Word regularly you can begin to ingrain the wisdom of the Bible in your mind. Like playing music on my ukulele, or listening to music will cause those songs to come to mind more quickly, having regular contact with the Bible will help you quickly remember what God has to say on a subject.

How to Meditate on God’s Word

There are various ways to fill your mind with the Bible. First, I think reading the Bible is a primary way to fix God’s Word in your heart. We have the written Word, now we need to read it.

Reading certainly isn’t the only way, and it may not be the best way for you. There are plenty of places these days to get the Bible in an audio format that you can listen to over and over. I’m a fan of BibleGateway for much of my study. They have audio bibles. There are also many apps you can get for your phone. One I have used before is from Bible.is, but there are many others to choose from.

Hearing God’s Word preached and explained is another way you should be filling your mind with the Bible. Also, hanging out with people who will help remind you of what God’s Word says in a given situation. These would be the people you get to know through regular church attendance.

But just hearing God’s Word and reading it does not mean that you are meditating upon it. Take time to think about what you have read. That is where the biblical meaning of meditation comes in. Spend time mulling over the words. Ponder them. Maybe even pull out a dictionary or commentary to help you get a better understanding of a passage.

There are many Bible study tools that you can use to help you learn more about God’s Word. I have written about how to use a concordance as well as given a list of books that can be beneficial as you study the Bible.

Take time to hide God’s Word in your heart. Maybe even tie a ribbon on your finger to help you remember a Bible truth.

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Bible Thought

Don’t Get Trapped

1 My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger, Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth. Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself, when thou art come into the hand of thy friend; go, humble thyself, and make sure thy friend. Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids. Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler.

Proverbs 6:1-5

I’m sure various time periods and cultures have had different cultural meanings for this word surety. In our day, one of the common ways this would be interpreted is to co-sign a loan on behalf of another. Solomon says that this is like a trap that a hunter would set for the purpose of catching a bird or gazelle.

Slave to the Lender

Photo of contract, credit card and US cash.

Proverbs 22:7 says that “the borrower is servant to the lender.” When you borrow from another you become a servant or slave to the one who lends. Fortunately, in many cultures today, defaulting on borrowed money isn’t likely to get you thrown into prison or make you the property of a slave owner. However, when you are working for the purpose of paying back a loan to someone else or to some institution, then you are essentially enslaved to them.

We are to be servants of Christ. Yet, even Christians, can become so indebted to the bank that they feel they are not able to surrender to God’s calling on their life because they are obligated to the bank.

In my work at a mission board, I counsel young people to avoid debt as much as possible. They will not be prepared to follow God’s leading to ministry if they have to use all the money they earn to pay back the loans that they have.

I remember what it was like to be a 25 year old young couple making $600 a month. We haven’t always stayed debt free, but I am thankful for the wise counsel we were given back then to avoid debt if at all possible.

Don’t Co-Sign

These verses in Proverbs five aren’t talking about getting yourself into debt, but actually enslaving yourself on behalf of another. It is not wise to co-sign for another person’s debt.

To put this into perspective, ask yourself a question like this: Am I willing to forsake God and His will for a period of time so that I can put myself in bondage to my friend and his bank? I hope the answer would be “no.”

Not Financial Advice

For legal purposes I must say you should not consider this financial advice. But it would be appropriate to take this as spiritual advice.

As a Recipient of Donations

If God were to call you into ministry to serve Him and you became dependent on His provision through the generous gifts of His people, how much of their donated money would you have to hand over to a bank just so you could keep from defaulting on your current obligations? Would you feel comfortable letting your donors know what percentage of their donation never even makes it into the ministry because of the debt you personally carry?

As Donor

Would you be willing to financially support someone who is taking 50% of the money you donated and giving that to a bank to pay the debt on credit cards, car loans, and the unwise co-signing of a friend’s loan? Wouldn’t you like to know that your donation is actually used for the ministry and not for the purpose of retiring someone’s unwise decisions of the past?

Solomon’s Advice

King Solomon gives the advice to get out of that debt as soon as possible. He does not say that you should stop paying on your debts and destroy any testimony you might have had as a child of God. But he does say that being indebted to a lender or co-signing on behalf of another is extremely unwise. You are allowing yourself to be trapped in an unnecessary situation.

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Bible Thought

Revelation or Experimentation

1 My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my understanding: That thou mayest regard discretion, and that thy lips may keep knowledge.

Proverbs 5:1, 2

This morning in Sunday School we had a lesson talking about the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. In Genesis chapter two God told Adam about this tree. God’s instruction was that Adam should not eat the fruit from that tree. If you’ve read Genesis three you know that Adam disobeyed God’s command.

One of the points in the lesson this morning was that we can learn the difference between good and evil in one of two ways. We can accept God’s revelation of what is right and wrong, or we can trust in our own experimentation. Revelation or experimentation.

Solomon is teaching the reader this same concept here in Proverbs five. There are people who would lead you down the wrong path in life. Our world is full of temptation to go against what God has revealed in His Word.

“I have hated instruction”

The end of experimentation brings shame and guilt. It causes the person in Proverbs five to say:

12 … How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof; 13 And have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me!

There is no need for us to end up in that place. Even if we’ve fought against godly teaching in the past, it does not mean that we can’t turn to living wisely today.

Solomon’s Example

Solomon uses the example of a young man who is tempted to live in an immoral way with, what he calls, a strange woman. In the book of Proverbs we see the phrase “strange woman” eight times. Solomon uses this to mean anyone who is not your wife. This may not start out as an intentional illicit affair. But Solomon is warning the reader to be wise in their choices.

I think this is just one example he could have chosen. Maybe your temptation is not exactly an inappropriate relationship with someone else. Maybe it is something with your thought life, or some sort of substance abuse. Allow God’s Word, and the teaching of godly people in your life to reveal what is right and wrong. Don’t be like the foolish young man in this chapter who thought he had to experience sin to be able to understand whether it was appropriate for him or not.

Pay attention to the warnings in the book of Proverbs. Many times we can avoid heartache in our life if we are willing to heed the warnings in God’s Word and the teachings of the godly people He has brought to us.

Learn by revelation, not experimentation.

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Bible Thought

Wisdom Is The Principal Thing

5Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.

Proverbs 4:5-7

Dr. Jim Stoutenborough was a friend who was 50 years older than I. When we met, I was in my 20s and I quickly saw a man who was everything that I was not: organized, well dressed, fastidious. I knew him mostly as a song leader. However, I think what influenced his care for details more than anything else was he was also a pilot.

I stood in the doorway of his office one day as he gave me one of his many words of wisdom. I can’t say that we “hung out,” but I always enjoyed any conversation I had with him. For some reason this one conversation has stuck with me 25 years later.

He quoted Proverbs 4:7 to me and said that should be one of my primary goals in life. Get wisdom. Get understanding. The world makes much more sense when you pursue wisdom as your top priority.

Wisdom and Understanding

Sometimes it is hard to define the difference between some words that seem like synonyms. Wisdom and understanding are similar, but not exactly the same.

Understanding is knowledge with meaning. Just knowing something does not necessarily mean you understand the reason behind it. That is facts without application.

An example is knowing what the accelerator and brake in a car are for. But, until you learn to drive, the facts of what accelerators and brakes do doesn’t really mean much to you. When you get experience behind the driver’s seat, you start to understand their importance and how those devices work.

The other word that interests us is the word wisdom. That word can also be interpreted as skill. Knowing is made of facts. Understanding is built through experience with that knowledge. But wisdom is when that knowledge and understanding become skill.

To continue the driving analogy let’s see where applied knowledge and understanding help to build skill. Think of a race car driver. They would have a more intimate knowledge and intuitive understanding of what a brake and accelerator are capable of. They have built skill that comes with applying everything that came before.

Solomon here in the book of Proverbs is telling us to not only learn, but seek to understand. Then, as you apply that understanding more and more to gain skill, you will begin to make wise choices without having to think too deeply about them.

As Dr. Jim encouraged me to do many years ago, make wisdom the the principle thing in your life. Get wisdom. Get understanding. Go beyond just learning facts, learn how to use them. This can be applied in any area of life. But Solomon is telling us to tenaciously pursue wisdom (skill) in applying God’s Word and interacting with people around us.

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Bible Thought

Do Good to Your Neighbor

27 Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. 28 Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee. 29 Devise not evil against thy neighbour, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee.

Proverbs 3:27-29

I believe I have the spiritual gift of helps. But a couple of years ago I was feeling frustrated with knowing I had been stretching myself too thin; which is something easy for me to fall into.

When we are allowing the Holy Spirit to control us (being filled with the Spirit) then our spiritual gifts and personality tendencies will be used to God’s glory. But in times when we are not spiritually disciplined then the things we normally love to do in service to God can become points of frustration. That mindset of frustration is where I was when I read these verses from Proverbs 3 a couple of years ago.

I highlighted those verses in my Bible and I have been convicted each time I have read those verses since then. Certainly these verses aren’t saying that I have to be the hero in every situation (though that is my tendency to want to do). But they are saying that we should help when we can and when it would be God’s will for us to do so.

Do I have the ability to help the person in need? Should I be the one to help them? Would it be more helpful to them if I got someone else involved?

Current World Situation

As we are currently dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in the world, I think this is a good time to evaluate whether we are doing what we can for our neighbors. There can be valid differences of opinions on what that means from a governmental standpoint. But individually we must show love to those around us.

The best definition of love I’ve heard comes from Romans 13:8, “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.”

Love is the fulfilling of the law. Or, put more clearly, love is doing what is right.

This is where we have to allow the Holy Spirit to lead us in knowing how to help those around us. Sometimes that may mean going to someone’s house to fix some plumbing for them. Sometimes that may mean staying away from their house so as to not put them at risk for a greater problem. How will you know the difference? I believe these two well-known verses from earlier in the chapter speak clearly to that.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Proverbs 3:5, 6

Allow God to lead you in helping others. Whether you have the spiritual gift of helps or not, we are all responsible for being a good neighbor. Be a good citizen to those around you at all times.