I absolutely adore reading the proverbs because they are so, well….proverbial! It’s obvious that the Lord granted Solomon’s wish for wisdom when his proverbs are studied. God gave him a knack for looking at and explaining life in ways that every person could understand.
At our parent practicum this week, we are learning about the three stages of learning: grammar stage, dialectic stage, and rhetorical stage. Usually a person become rhetorical (highly skilled and able to teach others) about certain topics. A podiatrist is rhetorical about feet. My vet is rhetorical about a dog’s anatomy. But Solomon was indeed unique. He was rhetorical about life because God gave him wisdom.
I came upon gem after gem after gem in tonight’s reading and wish I could share my thoughts about them all. If I did not have to get up early and prepare for Day 2 of our Beyond a Book Parent Practicum, I would pick apart several.
For now, though, I want to look at Proverbs 25:28.
28 A person without self-control
is like a city with broken-down walls.
The first thing I notice is that this proverb contains a simile comparing a person who lacks self-control with a city that no longer has protective walls. My recent study of the Old Testament makes this proverb come alive to me. I can see a city whose defensive walls have crumbled. Enemies and those who would cause harm to the residents have free reign over the streets. They cross over into the city and set fire to all the houses after plundering them for valuables.
How does this compare with someone who has lost all self-control?
A person under the influence of way too much alcohol has lost self control. The protective walls that normally surround us and help us maintain boundaries with those in our circle crumble when we lose our self control. Enemies, like depression, find it very easy to sneak in and wreak havoc on our hearts when we have lost control of ourselves.
Losing control of ourselves in the Lord, though, is different. Being out of our own control and being all alone without the Lord is not a safe place to be. But when we put our trust in Christ and yield to HIS yoke, we have lost ourselves. We have died to ourselves. Dying to yourself is an entirely different concept than losing self control. Choosing to trust the Lord day in and day out requires a measure of self control, doesn’t it? And when we lose that self control, our enemy takes advantage of our defenselessness and plunders our hearts.
I’ve experienced this first-hand as a mom. My daughter sometimes pushes all the right buttons to turn my temper from a gentle simmer to a flash bang fire! But her pushing the buttons is not the cause of my fire. My lack of self control is what leads to my defenselessness. I give in to negative talk and say words that I should never say to my child. I become an arrow in the enemy’s quiver on such occasions.
How can a person prevent the loss of those protective walls we shelter under? I think we get better at controlling ourselves and putting ourselves intentionally under His yoke when we pray specifically about it. Perhaps envisioning ourselves as a city with the Lord surrounding us as a shelter will help us exercise self control so we can stay in the shade under His authority.
I could write so much more about this concept of exercising self control, yet Solomon captured it in a nutshell. That’s why I love Proverbs so much. They are efficient teachers. Now if I can only be an efficient learner!