February 19, 2010

Whose definition?


n Tuesday I wrote about the Biblical Success Manual from Proverbs 3. As a reminder, we are told, “Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you.... So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.”

Then on Wednesday I sat at the feet of the Instructor and learned about the meaning of the words steadfast love and faithfulness.

Today God reminded me that those words were not the only ones in the passage from the Proverbs. My bible reading today brought up the word success and reminded me that culture and society have altered our understanding of many words—not just words such as steadfast love and faithfulness.

Psalm 37:16

Better is the little that the righteous has than the abundance of many wicked.

As I read Psalm 37 the verse in the callout box to the right jumped out at me. “Better is the little that the righteous has than the abundance of many wicked.” The word success somehow sounds to our ears as a synonym to wealthy. But this verse says that the righteous are in a better state than many wealthy wicked people all grouped together. So their riches compounded are still not to be desired above the modest means of the righteous man.

The passage goes on to explain that a bit, including the fact that the wicked man’s day will come. The passage says “the arms of the wicked will be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous.” And, “the wicked will perish; the enemies of the Lord are like the glory of the pastures; they vanish—like smoke they vanish away.”

King David, the author of this psalm, gives some characteristics of the wicked and the righteous that further my understanding of biblical “success” In verse 21, “the wicked borrows but does not pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives.” In this context, the wicked borrows and does not repay even though he is numbered among the wealthy. And the righteous, already having been shown to possess “little,” is generous, giving of his possessions to others.

Psalms 37:25-26

I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread. He is ever lending generously, and his children become a blessing.

King David apparently wanted to push this point a little. So he overcomes our reservations about this concept by speaking from experience when he says, “I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.” I hear in the psalmist’s words, “Don’t worry. God will take care of you. Just do what is right.”

Again I find that I have a whole lot of work to do. May God grant me the grace to sanctify me and mercy while I undergo that sanctification.


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