Seals used as identification in correspondence:
He said, “What pledge should I give you?”
“Your seal and its cord, and the staff in your hand,” she answered. So he gave them to her and slept with her, and she became pregnant by him. – – Genesis 38:18
A seal was a form of identification used to authenticate legal documents. Usually a unique design carved in stone and worn on a ring or necklace inseparable from its owner, the seal was used by the wealthy and powerful to mark clay or wax. Because Tamar had Judah’s seal, she could prove beyond a doubt that he had been with her.
Reliability needed in:
A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a trustworthy envoy brings healing. – – Proverb 13:17
In Solomon’s day, a king had to rely on messengers for information about his country. These messengers had to be trustworthy. Inaccurate information could even lead to bloodshed. Reliable communication is still vital. If the message received is different from the message sent, marriages, businesses, and diplomatic relations can all break down. It is important to choose your words well and to avoid reacting until you clearly understand what the other person means.
(Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice. – – Proverb 13:10. “I was wrong” or “I need advice” are difficult phrases to utter because they require humility. Pride is an ingredient in every quarrel. It stirs up conflict and divides people. Humility, by contrast, heals. Guard against pride. If you find yourself constantly arguing, examine your life for pride. Be open to the advice of others, ask for help when you need it, and be willing to admit your mistakes.)
(He who scorns instruction will pay for it, but he who respects a command is rewarded. – – Proverb 13:13. God created us, knows us, and loves us. It only makes sense, then, to listen to his instruction and do what he says. The Bible is his unfailing word to us. It is like an owner’s manual for a car. If you obey God’s instructions, you will “run smoothly” and find his kind of power to live. If you ignore them, you will have breakdowns, accidents, and failures.)
(A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul, but fools detest turning from evil. – – Proverb 13:19 Whether a “longing fulfilled” is good or bad depends on the nature of the desire. It is “sweet to the soul” to achieve worthwhile goals, but not all goals are worth pursuing. When you set your heart on something, you may lose your ability to assess it objectively. With your desire blinding your judgment, you may proceed with an unwise relationship, a wasteful purchase, or a poorly conceived plan. Faithfulness is a virtue, but stubbornness is not.)
(He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm. – – Proverb 13:20. The old saying “A rotten apple spoils the barrel” is often applied to friendships, and with good reason. Our friends and associates affect us, sometimes profoundly. Be careful whom you choose as your closest friends. Spend time with people you want to be like – – because you and your friends will surely grow to resemble each other.)
Why may are afraid to talk with God:
But Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put the LORD to the test.” – – Isaiah 7:12
Ahaz appeared righteous by saying he would not test God with a sign (“I will not ask; I will not put the LORD to the test”). In fact, God had told him to ask, but Ahaz didn’t really want to know what God would say. Often we use some excuse, such as not wanting to bother God, to keep us from communicating with him. Don’t let anything keep you from hearing and obeying God.
Isaiah predicted the breakup of Israel’s alliance with Aram (7:4-9). Because of this alliance, Israel would be destroyed; Assyria would be the instrument God would use to destroy them (7:8-25) and to punish Judah. But God would not let Assyria destroy Judah (8:1-15). They would be spared because God’s gracious plans cannot be thwarted.
(Then the LORD said to Isaiah, “Go out, you and your son Shear-Jashub, to meet Ahaz at the end of the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Washerman’s Field. – – Isaiah 7:3. Shear-Jashub means “a remnant will return”. God told Isaiah to give his son this name as a reminder of his plan for mercy. From the beginning of God’s judgment he planned to restore a remnant of his people. Shear-Jashub was a reminder of the people of God’s faithfulness to them.)
(The “Aqueduct of the Upper Pool” may have been the site of the Gihon spring, located east of Jerusalem. The Gihon spring was the main source of water for the holy city, and was also the spring that emptied into Hezekiah’s famous water tunnel (2 Chronicles 32:20). The Washerman’s Field was a well-known place where clothing or newly woven cloth was laid in the sun to dry and whiten (see 36.2).)
©Kingsway International Church 1973.