THERE IS AN AFTERWARDS (23:18A)
Dear God, in the midst of driven world, teach me how to possess the serenity I yearn for, the peace of mind and heart I desire.
Read PROVERBS 23:1–35
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“The person who teaches children learns more than they do” (German proverb). See verses 12–16.
I start with the beginning, the end and then the middle of this passage, thinking about first the fatherless, that wherever they are they may find a representative from their greatest Defender (11); then the seducer—though a woman is pictured as the king speaks to his son—just as easily a man (28); and then those addicted to alcohol, often (but not always) recognizable by their disheveled appearance (21b).
I spend the rest of my time today thinking about my family, a topic which arouses visceral emotion (“my inmost being,” 16a)—my parents, my children, those who are most dependent on me. Verse 12 links heart and ears—I pray, like Solomon, for “a discerning heart” (1 Kings 3:9–12). The motive for the strict discipline recommended here is set out in verses 13,14; the result is deep joy for me (16a) and my family.
I save my strong emotion (zeal, jealousy—the same word, 17) not for envying others but for godliness (17b). I renew my hope that there is an afterwards (18) and pray against the two forms of hopelessness—arrogant presumption and crippling despair. As I mull over the verbs of verses 22–26 I pray that as I get older my family life may be marked by this warmth and sweetness. Without my father and my mother (begetter and bearer) I would not exist. If there is violence or darkness or emptiness in this retrospect, I sit with this sorrow, grateful that the One I trust has tasted the deep anguish of fatherlessness (Matt. 27:46). If my parents are drifting away from me into the mists of old age or dementia, I pray again for a listening heart, not to interrogate and correct but to hear and to accept.
What does this future hope depend upon (18; see 24:14, 20; Psa. 37:37)? How are you sharing in that hope for yourself?
Lord, support me all the day long through the valley of this life. Grant me safe lodging, a holy rest and peace at last.