WHO IS THE WOMAN IN MICHELANGELO’S PORTRAIT
WHOM GOD HAS ENCIRCLED WITH HIS FREE ARM?
Dr. Ellen Davis, in her Westminister Commentary, believes it is “the woman wisdom who was at his side in creation.”
We are coming to the close of the first part of Proverbs,
the introduction that keeps contrasting
the call of the woman folly with the call of the woman wisdom.
Many believe that it is Jesus who is described in Proverbs 8.
Others believe it is the wisdom of the Lord personified.
Either way, it is the voice of the Lord.
But how do we hear His voice?
How do we discern if He is really speaking to us
or if we are imagining it? I see two very important principles.
1. It must agree with God’s Word. (And we must know how to interpret Scripture — in this latest debate on gay marriage, we see so much twisting or genuine misunderstanding of how to interpret Scripture, such as looking at the polygamy in the Old Testament and seeing that as an endorsement from God on “rainbow” marriages.)
2. Those who fear Him and are intimate with Him, are more likely to discern His voice in areas where Scripture is silent. (Such as, “Do I marry this man?” “Do I take this job?” “Where should I give the money with which God has entrusted me?”)
Last month my dear friend Linda Strom was with me,
and she always inspires me.
She often hears His voice in a way that consternates others. She is intimate with Him, she knows His Word, keeps it in context, and begins with it instead of her own opinion. She also hears His still small voice in areas where Scripture is silent, but where decisions must be made.
She runs the helm of Discipleship Unlimited in a way that would make most businessmen crazy. If the funds are not there, yet she has heard from God to begin another faith dorm, or to bless the women in some way, she asks the board to step out in faith. She’s confident, because she has heard His voice, that He will also supply their need.
And for decades, He has done exactly that.
What is her secret?
I think it is this:
We know, and keep saying, that proverbs are general principles and not promises. So there are times when You seek Him diligently and cannot find Him, cannot discern His voice. But generally speaking, the ones who are most likely to hear Him, are those who are intimate with Him, those who love Him. The psalmist puts it like this, and this is a promise, though it will be on His timetable!
He confides in those who fear him…
Many of you are still reeling from the Supreme Court decision. I don’t think it is wise to initiate the discussion with unbelievers, for it is a side issue and Satan loves to distract from the gospel. But they may initiate it, or believers who are now embracing this may want to talk about it. I do think we have a responsibility to be prepared to listen and to speak the truth in love. (We also must not assume that everyone who speaks against the Supreme Court decision is wise, or that there is no wisdom in those who speak for it.) So this week there is an optional activity to read an article from The Gospel Coalition that has gone viral and is getting both kind and unkind rebuttals. You will read both the article, then the rebuttal, and then write a paragraph with your own view, expressed in love, that might help you when discussing this with those you love.
Also, you’ll have a chance to hear from Wesley Hill, an Anglican brother who tells how he heard from God about his own same sex attraction. I hope you’ll listen, not only because I think Dr. Hill is a helpful voice in these times, but because he is a model of how to hear from God and how to speak the truth in love.
1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
Monday-Wednesday Bible Study
Read Proverbs 8:11 and then prepare your heart for study with this.
There is None Like You
2. Read Proverbs 8:1-9 and find the repeated quality of wisdom.
E. F. Davis writes: “The connection between wisdom and wealth is occasional, what is invariable is the link between wisdom and righteousness (20). In other words, wisdom is not a commodity or a technique that can be manipulated toward whatever end we choose, it has an essential connection with goodness.
Sara Groves might put it like this: it always “Adds to the Beauty” Prepare your heart with this:
3. What is one way James 3:17 helps us to identify the Wisdom that is from above? How might you apply this?
4. Read Proverbs 8:10-21 and share anything that quickens you and why.
5. According to Proverbs 8:22-31, what part did wisdom play in creation?
6. How is Proverbs 9:1-6 similar to the parable we studied last week of the call to the wedding banquet?
7. How does a wise man and a scoffer respond to rebuke? (9:7-9) How do you respond to rebuke?
8. How is the voice of folly different from the voice of wisdom? (Proverbs 9:13-18) What does heeding her voice lead to?
In this latest debate on same-sex marriage, the voice of folly is crying out. The other day one of the new Christians in our church brought me a folder of articles he had collected on this. He is trying to discern the truth, and admits it is challenging for a new Christian. I want you to read first an article he had from The Gospel Coalition. Then I want you to read one of the many rebuttals. I’ve chosen one of the kinder ones for I think she has some legitimate points but also some points that are based on a misunderstanding of Scripture.
9. Read this article from The Gospel Coalition and share your thoughts. These questions are addressed to those who proclaim faith yet agree with the Supreme Court Decision. Be discerning — which questions are particularly good and which might you skip and why? Our own Lizzy helped me to see this article is not constructive, but seems like “gotcha!” Not the way of wisdom James describes: peaceable, gentle. But I’m showing it to you and the response to help you formulate a response that is in line with the wisdom James describes. I think Keller’s response does — but you see what you think. We’re looking for discernment, love, and truth! If you want to skip the “rainbow articles,” do. Lizzy found one I will also post that has discernment, love and truth. I know some of you are weary with all of this, and I understand, yet I feel compelled, for I believe God’s heart is broken over the brokenness of our world and the way His children are failing to respond to their broken brothers and sisters with wisdom.
40 QUESTIONS FOR RAINBOW WAVING FRIENDS
10. There are some terrible rebuttals — caustic and so obviously filled with a foolish distorting of Scripture, but instead I want to present one of the better rebuttals and ask you to find some of her legitimate points (for this will prepare you to hear what they are hearing — the lack of love) but also her misunderstanding or neglect of Scripture. Tim Keller suggests listening to the other side very carefully, and then articulating their argument so they know they have been heard. So read, summarize, and only then de-construct her argument.
40 Answers to Christians Fearing Rainbow Waving Friends
Article Lizzy found — I thought, perhaps instead of preparing questions we should be preparing to answer questions from our broken-hearted friends who struggle with SSA.
Also, Tim Keller’s brief response to this issue provides a model. Watch this and comment:
Tim Keller on Homosexuality (less than 3 minutes)
11. Write a paragraph about what you believe, and why, with empathy and love.
Message: Wesley Hill
Wesley Hill: Washed and Waiting
12. Share your thoughts and comments. How did Wesley Hill go about hearing from God?
13. What is your take-a-way and why?
Few thoughts about Wes Hill’s message:
I think it was excellent for those with SSA who are in the church and striving to remain there. I was impressed with many things. (Rebecca mentioned a couple things that I had highlighted too.)
I also wanted to mention some things that were said by the moderator in the introduction, that grabbed me. He mentioned that when it comes to sexuality, the need is quite often, not that the faithful (the church) speak TO the world, but that the faithful get together and have conversations as well. He mentioned this being the basis for the word, conspiracy. Conspiring or breathing together in the same space. I really like that image and believe we have begun that process here. This is definitely the safest place I know to have done this. I would like to say I could be a part of this elsewhere too. But I’m not sure, yet.
He also used the phrase ‘avoid hidebound traditionalism’ ; one which knows all of the answers before the questions are asked and there is no way to move towards the need. Gulp. That is exactly how I feel my background in talking about sexuality was, and sadly, I feel that carried over into my parenting. It’s almost hard to believe how much has changed in me and in what is around me, since then.
I learned a lot from Wes Hill. I would recommend his words to people like me. I think many in the church, gay or straight, can learn from him. And I really like his manner and his thoughtfulness. He has put much into his presentation. And it is good. However, it would not be a message that many I am concerned about would listen to. They couldn’t hear his message because unless a persons believes that mankind is fallen and that God is the Creator who has a design for this life, Wes’ message isn’t one that will begin to penetrate. Which is okay. I didn’t expect it to be for everyone. I just made this observation, because I think when it comes to my loved ones, this whole topic of sexuality is far down the road in priority. It is the basics of orthodox theology that they are missing. That has to be accepted first.
THE “PARAGRAPH!” (separate sections for same sex marriage and the SCOTUS decision) I wrote an outline yesterday & then took a 16-18 hr “nap!” I’m a little foggy now, but will give it a shot. Too many questions!Background: I sorta think I need a table for this: My attitudes toward same-sex marriage & the SCOTUS decision are 2 separate issues; plus I would address individuals differently than I would a group, although it is important to know what I believe (to a certain point, but not entirely) when talking with individuals. In addition, I want to think about this primarily in terms of what (and Whom) and I support rather than what I am against. I would avoid “us” and “them,” partly because I don’t know where to draw the line. I’m “them,” a sinner saved by Grace. I still have a ton of questions.
Same-sex marriage (still outline-y rather than paragraph):
-Begin with repentance (log in own eye; while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us; for ranking sins, including sexual sins; have also been thinking about racial reconciliation and group repentance).-Remember the Gospel. None of us are saved by our behavior. Moralism does not save. Many LGBT people are good, contributing friends, neighbors, community members — and may be more “moral” than others who claim to be believers.
–SoS (& Hosea): God’s love, wooing, to unfaithful, fickle people — even after marriage.
–Traditional marriage: The entire Biblical story, from creation to restoration; SoS representing Christ and the Church
-Marriage: lifelong covenant between one man and one woman, as designed by God. (I’m getting sorta stuck here because marriage has turned into a contract rather than lifelong covenant, certainly legally, but also by Protestant church; i.e., we’ve already redefined marriage. And Jesus recognized Biblical exceptions for divorce)-Marriage: mystery, transformation. The transformation doesn’t happen instantaneously for any of us. What is my role in pointing out violations of the marriage covenant (i.e., ANY sin that comes between God and one of his own)? I generally don’t walk up to people on the street and make pronouncement against sins. Sanctification is a process — wondering how this fits with believers who are entering same-sex marriages?
-Looking forward to the complete union, restoration of Christ and His church: Remember the big picture & rejoice in it; disagreement should not prevent me from developing friendships.-My 2 cents is that churches that don’t support same-sex marriage should come up with an adjective to differentiate it from secular/civil marriage — and be consistent, gospel-oriented with promoting a covenant view of marriage.
SCOTUS decision: I don’t necessarily think it is “good” for society; however, overall, I am neutral on the decision & am open toward moving to support it.What I don’t like: Judicial branch making law.What I don’t know: if the judicial branch made law or if this fits under equal protection.What I do know: –There are many legal protections/rights with marriage that permeate society. Those who aren’t married have to get an attorney to put some of those rights in place: e.g., end of life decisions. If nothing else, people who are married get cheaper rates at some events and for some memberships — even when the cost/use of materials for a couple is double than that of a single person. In that sense, people who are LGBT have been discriminated against. -In the US, the church and gov’t have a strange relationship. We are told to pray for, respect the powers that be. Yet the country was formed due to revolt against the British. Churches have gone along with and promoted sins of slavery/genocide. “The good old days” weren’t so good for some people. Remaining questions: To what degree should Christians try to determine morality for everyone? How do we pick and choose sins we want legislation against? What is best for the general public? How does disrespect for government impact the sharing of the Gospel? I guess I come back to the “log in my own eye” — both individually and in the church. I read a Christianity Today article that discussed attitudes toward same-sex marriage in the church. Even in evangelical churches, that support is growing.I can’t even begin to have a discussion with people for or against the SCOTUS decision on same-sex marriage without knowing what they believe. Reactions against the decision either may have been due to not agreeing with same sex marriage or to the judicial process — or going with one’s own political crowd. I suspect that some who support the decision are supporting it because they believe that in equal protection and equal rights under the law.I agree that believers are to be engaged citizens, vote, have positions in the government. But if we are to be called-out, separate from the world, why is the church involved with the legal end of marriage? (same thing I was wondering about in the beginning). AT THE MOMENT, I’m thinking that if believers are speaking for/against the SCOTUS decision, we need to be very clear about WHY. If it is to support marriage as a foundational, necessary institution of society (I don’t hear many saying that), we need to be consistent with ALL violations of the marriage covenant. If it is for tax deductions and civil rights, Christians shouldn’t care, at least when representing Christianity.
Several years ago, I was wrestling with the idea of civil unions because I do believe in civil rights — never really came to a conclusion. I support traditional marriage, but I am not convinced (I really don’t know) that fighting to oppose same-sex “marriage”(long term committed same sex relationships have been occurring for years & I think we lost that battle) for everyone is an effective way to be salt and light in the world — or will change behaviors. Tax deductions and cheaper gym memberships for legally married couples probably aren’t the central issues on God’s heart. I think He is grieved by the whole picture — both “sides:” not just distortion of marriage which he designed, but failure of His Bride to understand their identity and role in the world and seek Him for wisdom.
I do appreciate this study, and it was crucial for me to do the Bible Study before developing and spouting off my opinion. Still, I only know what I believe from the “church” side of things. I have a ton of questions about the rest; I won’t come down as opposing the SCOTUS decision until/unless I have a better understanding of the civil rights and legal issues.
Like these questions and thoughts. I think too, that it is likely, I have different answers for SS Marriage in general and what the SC decision means.
Excellent thoughts about marriage turning into a contract instead of a covenant. I see inconsistency there too. I think that’s what’s hardest for me to reconcile with this whole topic.
My situation is different in that I am not in the USA. The recent decision in USA has reignited the pressure for our government to change the law though. Here it would require an act of parliament rather than a judicial decision, as marriage is explicitly defined within the law. Our conservative government has repeatedly stated that this will not happen, but if (when?) the government changes it seems likely that there will be changes. All other major political parties support same sex marriage.
11. Write a paragraph about what you believe and why, with empathy and love. I keep coming back to these:
1. What is the purpose of life? To keep this life? To get all you can out of this life? To make sure you get what you want from life? Then what? What is the purpose when you are gone? What will have left behind that will be deemed as “glad you had it”?
2. What is identity? Who are you really? What happens to your identity when that changes or when others around you change? Do others have to approve of you before you can feel comfortable with that identity?
3. can it be that our culture has lost the art of embracing hardship? Can it be that we have become an entitled species expecting things to go the way we want them to and becoming ‘upset’ (tipped over) when things dont? Can it be that we find our identity in what we want life to look like and miss the benefit of seeing what hardship brings.
Each of these three intricately intertwine and effect each other. For everyone.
Very good questions, Jill. Yes, for everyone.
Liked video by Wesley Hill but want to listen again — listened yesterday when I wasn’t wide awake. One thing that sort of woke me up was when he referred to himself as coming out as gay (or somehow used the term in reference to himself). Probably the safest, if I need terms in discussion, is to ask people what they prefer.
I would like to comment on the Wesley Hill video. This gives an excellent view of an honesty that I desire to see in the church.
His sharing of his story and relating it to the Story of the gospel is so clear and refreshing. I feel a sadness when the topic of homosexuality and the church is brought up. So often it feels like a total rejection of individuals. He is able to relate to the story of the man born blind who was healed to bring God glory. Yes, we are created in God’s image, yet we are fallen individuals who need the gospel, a redemption through the shed blood of Jesus. To be able to articulate our own testimony so clearly is a hope we should all have.
Yes, God designed marriage as a picture of Christ and his bride, and it is through a man and a woman living in a committed relationship.
This video really inspires me to reach out to others fearlessly and engage in dialogue. The only hindrance is that many misunderstand and do not feel safe in this controversy. Judgmentalism is so often the result of not listening and loving as God calls us to do.
This Proverbs’ ‘strange’ or ‘foreign’ or ‘estranged’ woman is likely a married prostitute, estranged from/to her husband, yet still living in the same house with him (Prov 2:17, 5:9:10, 7:8-12, 27, possibly 9:13,17-18). If she’s not that, she’s like a ‘serial adulteress’. Prov 6:24-26 is evidence she is flattering and might be a prostitute due to the mention of her beauty and seductive eyelids. The words’ give’, ‘honour’, ‘years’, ‘wealth’ and ‘labours’ in Prov 5:9-10 sound like they are about a prostitute.
The two main terms for this ‘strange’ or ‘foreign’ or ‘estranged’ woman in Hebrew Proverbs are zarah/ishah zarah (can mean estranged wife, who can have sex with many men), and nokariyah (can mean foreign woman, and a foreign woman in ancient Israel was likely often a prostitute).
Prov 7:5,8 (‘the street near her corner’),10 (‘attire of an harlot’),12 (‘in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner’),16 (‘Egypt’; foreign aspect),19 (‘the man’/’my man’/’my husband’; likely married), 25-27 (7:26, ‘She hath cast down many wounded, and many strong men have been slain by her’; has manyvictims/partners/lovers) are the best verses showing what she is about. Prov 2:19 (Hebrew/’LXX’: ‘all’/’not’), ‘they’, 7:26 (‘many’, ‘many’), possibly 9:18 (‘the dead’, ‘her guests’) and possibly 6:26 in the ‘LXX’ (plural word: lives/souls) are evidences she has many victims/partners/lovers. She is likely married, Prov 2:17, 5:9-10, 6:26,29,32-35, 7:19, 9:17 are evidences of this. (‘stolen water is sweet’ likely refers to adultery. A wife’s sexuality is referred to as water in Prov 5:15. Bread of secrets or ‘hidden bread is pleasant’ can also refer to adultery, as Potiphar’s wife may be referred to as ‘the bread’ Potiphar knew, while he gave everything else into the hand of Joseph, Gen 39:6). This ‘strange’ or ‘foreign’ or ‘estranged’ woman in Proverbs apparently isn’t directly called a prostitute because the professional or unmarried prostitute is mentioned in Prov 6:26, 7:10, 23:27 (first part), 29:3 (plural), and this ‘foreign woman’ apparently has a foreign aspect (Prov 7:16) and is likely married, and is likely a married prostitute or serial adulteress in simple terms. I’d call her an estranged wife prostitute.
This ‘strange’ or ‘estranged’ or ‘foreign’ woman in Proverbs is likely a married prostitute, in simple terms. In more complex terms, I’d call her an estranged wife prostitute. Less likely, she is a ‘serial adulteress’. Prov 7:5,8,10-12,16 (foreign aspect, ‘Egypt’),19 (likely married, ‘the man’ is likely a term of belittlement, similar to Potiphar’s wife calling her husband ‘he’ in Gen 39:14, with no introduction or respect shown; or it is a term for vagueness),25-27 are the best verses showing what this Proverbs ‘strange’ woman is about. What is one to make of the words ‘And the adulteress will hunt for the precious life’ (plural in the ‘LXX’) in Prov 6:26? Likely this ‘strange woman’ in Proverbs is, at least, committing adultery on a regular basis,with many men. She may be hunting for the precious life/lives as in for it or them, as in hunting for wealth or hunting for men to commit adultery with.What this verse really means is disputed, but it is evidence that this ‘strange woman’ in Proverbs commits adultery, and in ancient Israel that meant she was married, as it was not adultery for an unmarried woman to have sex with a married man.
She is likely a serial adulteress or a serial adulterous prostitute, in simple, yet basically sufficient terms. This video mentions her being a ‘giant adulteress’, but the picture (3:30-3:33) looks like an adulterous prostitute, doesn’t it?
That is likely who she is in Proverbs.
She may be an ‘estranged’ wife/woman from her husband, and who has sex with many men. One of the main terms for her in Hebrew Proverbs, zarah/ishah zarah can have an ‘estranged’ meaning to it. http://biblehub.com/aramaic-plain-english/proverbs/7.htm
These pastor links used to work, a couple no longer do because the pastor’s website no longer exists or has changed.
The pastor I agree with probably the most is this one here, by the name of M. Sean Reynolds, where he says:
Therefore, the “foreign woman” in Proverbs is a seductive adulteress, who is also sometimes a prostitute.
Pastor/priest/Bible scholar George Leo Haydock’s Catholic commentary (mid 19th century) lists a married ‘abandoned woman’ (prostitute) as a preferred definition of who she is, citing Antoine Augustin Calmet (a French Benedictine monk of the 17th and 18th centuries who wrote commentaries on the Bible)
Here is pastor Bob Yandian who identifies her as a prostitute and claims a verse in Prov 9 shows what she’s really like, and implies her serial adulterous side with the words ‘He is stealing waters that rightfully belong to another man’, and with ‘This woman has a long list of successes and they are all lyingflat on their backs in the coffin.’
Here is pastor Larry Wood who thinks she is at least some type of prostitute.
‘For the prostitute is a deep pit, And the foreign prostitute is a narrow well. (Proverbs 23:27)’
Here is pastor Darrell Mitchell
Chapter 5 is an exhortation to get acquaintance with and submit to the laws of wisdom. Verses 3-4 give a particular caution against these heathen temple prostitutes and remedies are prescribed against that sin.
the primary scope of this chapter is to relate the symbol of the adulterous woman of idolatry, that tend to degrade men’s minds and manners –- thesetemple harlots certainly apply!
Here are some videos which I believe are along the lines of who I think she is: