Better think twice before mocking bald men
2Kings 2: Elisha turned, took one look at them, and cursed them.
This story makes me uncomfortable. Some children mock Elisha, the man of God, so he curses them resulting in two bears coming out of the woods and killing 42 of them. What’s this all about anyway? Some Bible scholars I’ve read say that “children” is not the only meaning of the Hebrew word used. It can mean “servants” and can refer, not to 7-year-olds, but to young people and even young adults. However, reading that a group of 20-year-old servants mock Elisha and he curses them doesn’t do much to solve my discomfort with this incident. So what do I do with this passage? I think I have to just read it and go on, believing that there’s something happening here that I don’t get. I have to conclude that I’m missing some vital bit of information that would help me make sense of the passage. It isn’t unusual to have to deal with life issues that way. For instance, someone tells me that a person for whom I have great respect has done something totally out of character. I can’t defend what they’ve done but I can conclude that I don’t know the whole story. Perhaps, if I did, it would make sense to me. So, as I come to this passage I read something that doesn’t fit in with what I know about God: that “God is love,” holy and righteous. I can’t explain it, but instead of making me doubt God, it just reminds me that I don’t know the whole story about this or about another million or so issues of life.
Take Away: Sometimes I have to admit I don’t understand things and rely on the character of the Lord.
Daniel 2: There is a God in heaven who solves mysteries, and he has solved this one.
Daniel is the interpreter of dreams. When Nebuchadnezzar has a disturbing dream it’s Daniel who comes through, not only with the interpretation of the dream, but the dream itself. This good man is always careful to give credit where credit is due, and he tells this pagan king that it’s his God who’s solved this mystery. “All the king’s horses and all the king’s men” can’t do it, but God can and has. Daniel describes the dream and then he explains the meaning. The vexing mystery is unraveled for Nebuchadnezzar and he likes what he hears. I haven’t had any deep, meaningful dreams of late. However, life does have more than its share of mysteries. Who hasn’t asked, at some point, “why?” If you’ve never received one of those middle-of-the-night phone calls I’m happy for you but don’t think that call will never come. Sooner or later we all face some mystery of life. I’m glad today to be reminded that “there is a God in heaven who solves mysteries.” In this statement Daniel reveals his Source. God is the great Mystery Solver.
Take Away: The Lord can unravel the mysteries of our lives.
The Good Wife
Proverbs 31: A good woman is hard to find, and worth more than diamonds.
The final portion of Proverbs is called the “Hymn to a Good Wife.” Apparently, it comes from the mother of someone called King Lemuel. His identity is another of those minor mysteries. Some people think that Solomon is actually speaking of himself and the words of wisdom come from Bathsheba. However, that appears to only be based on a desire to keep this “all in the family.” Others say that the final chapter of Proverbs is from the same fellow who gave us the second to the last chapter, good old Agur Ben Yakeh — another person we know nothing about. Again, this is just stuff that has no major significance but is interesting to think about. I can’t help but smile when I realize that the much quoted tribute to a good wife was probably written by a woman! Still, it is nice to see such positive words about women who love and serve their family; women who make a difference in this world for their loved ones and for God. After all, if not for this passage, what would preachers use for a text on Mother’s Day? (I’m kidding, I’m kidding!)
Take Away: If you’ve found a “good woman” treat her right and thank God for her!
Good old Agur Ben Yakeh
Proverbs 30: There is no God…I can do anything I want!
Some of the final pages of Proverbs are attributed to Agur Ben Yakeh. Aside from the name and that he is from a town or country called Massa we’re pretty much in the dark about him. The name, I’m told, doesn’t appear to be Israelite, but is more Arab sounding. Of course, Solomon rules a vast empire and has friendly relations with many countries. It may be that Agur Ben Yakeh is considered to be a very wise man in his home country and that Solomon agrees, collecting his sayings and including him in his book of Proverbs. However, there’s a bit of a problem with this idea because the nation of Israel alone worships Jehovah God at this time. Clearly, the words of Agur Ben Yakeh are those of a worshiper of God. I know these little things are often of more interest to me than to others, but it is kind of fun to think about this ancient mystery. If the identity of Ben Yakeh is mysterious, his opening proverb is pretty straight forward. He isn’t impressed by people who doubt the existence of God. They may think they can ignore God and his commandments but when they do it isn’t the commandments that get broken! The wise man says “every promise of God proves true.” He warns those who doubt that to reconsider, warning, “he might take you to task and show up your lies.” The day’s coming when everyone will believe in God. After all, we’ll stand before him in Judgment. Those who doubt will be convinced, but for them, it will be too late. The One they have doubted and ignored, will “take them to task.”
Take Away: Sooner or later everyone will believe in God – it’s better to be part of the “sooner” crowd.