Happy is the one who is never without fear, but one who is hard-hearted will fall into calamity. Proverbs 28:14
Here, the proverb sets up a contrast between someone who fears and someone who is hard-hearted. The person with fear is happy or blessed; the hard-hearted will find ruin and distress. To understand this, we must realize that the proverb speaks of fear of the Lord. In Hebrews this literally means “to tremble or be cautious before God.” The person who remains in awe of our God, aware of our God, moved by our God, is blessed according to the proverb. On the other hand, the hard-hearted, the unmoved, the unfeeling will wander into all kinds of difficulty. It is fear of the Lord that allows the faithful to stay in touch with the leading and guidance of a loving God.
Prayer - God, may I stay in touch with you, aware of you, and moved by you as I walk through this day. Amen.
Written by Stacy Ikard, Senior Associate Pastor at WHPC
The righteous know the rights of the poor; the wicked have no such understanding. Proverbs 29:7
Notice that it’s not that the righteous care for the poor, like charity. The righteous “know the rights” of the poor. They take up the cause of the poor and fight for them.
In the United States in the 21st century, there are many different ways to advocate with and on behalf of people who live in poverty. You could start by reflecting on Matthew 25, with its calls to supply needs, welcome strangers, comfort the sick, and befriend prisoners. You could explore ministries like Community First! Village, Manos de Cristo, and Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services, which go beyond handouts to educate, empower, and equip people truly to thrive. You might even consider, when you are preparing to vote in any election, how the candidate’s platform will impact people who are living below the poverty line—that’s about 13% of Americans. Research and learn more when you aren’t sure. Knowing the rights of the poor is a responsibility of our faith, and it starts with listening, learning, and growing.
Prayer - God of justice and righteousness, help us to know and understand the rights of the poor. Teach us what we may need to learn in order to take up their cause. No matter our economic circumstances, reveal to us our interconnectedness and interdependence, and move us to share what we have with mutual respect and love. Amen.
Written by Claire Berry, Associate Pastor at WHPC
Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute. Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy. Proverbs 31:8–9
What a gift our voice is. This proverb challenges me to consider who does not have a voice in my community. Who are the destitute, poor, and needy in our midst and how do we as followers of Jesus need to “speak out” for them? We must speak out, but do so with love and grace as our lens; with justice as our rule; coming alongside the work of God already happening in our world.
Prayer - God of all righteousness and justice, may I be quick to listen first today. May I be aware of those who need someone to speak out for them, but not to speak for them. Help me to make choices today that defend the rights of the poor and needy. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Written by Emily Wright, Senior Pastor at WHPC
A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Proverbs 31:10
In this last leg of the proverbs, we begin the poem of the virtuous woman, or “Woman of Valor.” Some may be tempted to see what’s coming next and say, “Here we go, the impossible checklist for women to be acceptable.” The reality is this: the invitation starting here is not to comparison, but to praise for the amazing, virtuous women that we have in our lives. It is to appreciate the strength, courage, and value that women are created by God to have. There is a reason wisdom is personified by a woman throughout the proverbs!
Prayer - God of Wisdom and Strength, lead me to appreciate the strong and virtuous women that you have placed in my life. Amen.
Written by Spencer Blacklock, Director of Middle School Ministry at WHPC
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her a share in the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the city gates. Proverbs 31:30–31
If we heard that a husband was stealing and keeping for himself all the money his wife earned at her job, we would be rightly outraged. Yet when the Book of Proverbs was written (around the 8th century BCE), wives were the property of their husbands, and anything a woman earned by working was given to her husband to be used at his sole discretion. Proverbs 31 praises women who are industriousness and work hard, and these final verses of the chapter make a revolutionary (at the time) claim that such women should be entitled to a share of the income they have generated. Justice and equality are threads that runs through this book of wisdom literature, making these rather fitting final words of Proverbs.
Prayer - Just God, we are all equal in your eyes. Help us to reflect your kindom hear on earth by treating everyone with fairness and equality. Let us deprive no one of opportunity, let us praise the good works of all people, and let us work toward a world where we all share in the good fruits. Amen.
Written by Caitlin Parsons, Seminary Intern at WHPC