International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday September 25, 2011
Purpose: To understand how the wise person lives in the world
Scripture Text: Proverbs 25:1-10
Proverbs 25:1-10 (NRSV)
(1)These are other proverbs of Solomon that the officials of King Hezekiah of Judah copied.
(2)It is the glory of God to conceal things,
but the glory of kings is to search things out.
(3)Like the heavens for height, like the earth for depth,
so the mind of kings is unsearchable.
(4)Take away the dross from the silver,
and the smith has material for a vessel;
(5)take away the wicked from the presence of the king,
and his throne will be established in righteousness.
(6)Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence
or stand in the place of the great;
(7)for it is better to be told, “Come up here,”
than to be put lower in the presence of a noble. What your eyes have seen
(8) do not hastily bring into court; for what will you do in the end,
when your neighbor puts you to shame?
(9)Argue your case with your neighbor directly,
and do not disclose another’s secret;
(10)or else someone who hears you will bring shame upon you,
and your ill repute will have no end.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
You have probably heard most of your life that you should not mix politics and religion, but that is exactly what our lesson is about this week. For the past few weeks our lessons have been about family wisdom. Today our lesson is more about political wisdom, or how a society can function at its best.
Verse 1 confirms what we had already addressed earlier; Solomon was the primary writer of the Book of Proverbs. These additional writings address how governments and constituents are expected to act.
Today, as it was in the time of Solomon and Hezekiah, the leaders of the government like to “toot their own horn.” On the other hand God prefers for us to figure it out for ourselves. Scripture as a whole is not God concealing things from us, but rather revealing Himself to us by scripture, the Holy Spirit, prophets and the proclaiming of His Holy Writ. What God has concealed, such as His creation, is concealed from those that do not seek His wisdom. While it has been concealed from the world, it has not been concealed by those that know and trust in God. All of creation is a mystery, but when it is closely inspected, God's fingerprints can be found on every piece of the puzzle.
While it might be hard for us today to believe that God establishes kings and kingdoms or that they are granted exceptional wisdom by God, verse 3 implies that godly rulers are given a wisdom that is above our normal wisdom (unsearchable).
Verses 4 & 5 are a practical illustration that there are bad advisers and distractions that need to be removed through a purification process. The result is a pure vessel that can be used for its intended purpose, and it is without the junk and other advice that has no value.
Verse 6 & 7 are just good advice for those that find themselves in the presence of powerful people. Too often people have a tendency of wanting to “rub elbows” with the rich and powerful. Sadly, many times people are judged by who they know, or who they claim to know. Keeping one's place, whether we are talking family, work, worship or community, often requires humility not easily attained.
Verses 8-10 paint a slightly different picture. How sure are you about what you think you saw? Before we accuse someone we need to check all of the facts. Sometimes a person’s ethnicity makes them the object of accusations, as someone once said, “The only exercise some of us get, is jumping to conclusions.” The writer states and important fact, “Argue your case with your neighbor directly.” Also we are to refrain from gossip and spreading rumors or confidences. Have you ever got caught telling another's secret? And then it comes out you are the only one that could have started or divulged that secret. If it has happened to you, don't be surprised if people stop sharing confidences with you. We have a saying around our house about gossip, we simply say, “they told more than they heard.” In the words of the famous TV detective Sgt. Friday, “just the facts” and even those should be checked.