Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Wisdom from Matthew Henry

This morning I read Ecclesiastes 7:9 (don't be impressed; I found this particular Scripture while reading a novel that quoted the verse).  It has been a few years since I read through the Bible in a year (o.k., it took me the better part of 3 years), and this verse didn't strike a chord in my memory. I looked it up: 
"Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools" (Ecclesiastes 7:9, ESV).  

This verse grabbed my attention, but I wasn't sure why.  So I checked Matthew Henry's explanation from his concise commentary: 

"Be not long angry; though anger may come into the bosom of a wise man, it passes through it as a way- faring man; it dwells only in the bosom of fools."
I remembered that St. Paul said,
"Be angry, and do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger" (Ephesians 4:26, ESV).  
 Many times through the day I experience a flash of anger toward Mom.  This happens when she is rude to me for no reason, when she causes extra work by doing things I've repeatedly asked her not to do, and when she is nonchalant about the extra work these things cause me ("It won't hurt you to do a little extra cleaning up"--or worse, sarcasm, "Ohhh, poor you...").  I know the Lord is telling me not to let this anger take up residence in my heart, where it can give birth to resentment and rob Mom of the childlike comfort she takes from me when I am able to be kind and nurturing toward her.
As caregivers we need to pray for wisdom.  If we are wise, we won't keep anger in our hearts toward those who mistreat us.  And if we can release that anger and respond in love, we are following Christ's example. 
I discovered Matthew Henry's Bible commentary while I was writing my first book.  I quoted from him often, impressed by how the Spirit-filled wisdom of someone who lived in the 17th century could continue to offer such an accurate perspective of human nature three hundred years later.  His writings reveal that he searched for knowledge, prayed for wisdom, and combined these two pursuits with a steadfast commitment to obedience to the Lord. You can find his concise commentary here. 

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