A lesson from Proverbs #2 Instruction and Teaching
Proverbs1: 8 Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. 9 They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.
Instruction and teaching are they the same thing?
Instruction / noun
- the act or practice of instructing or teaching; education.
- knowledge or information imparted.
- an item of such knowledge or information.
- Usually, instructions. orders or directions:
The instructions are on the back of the box.
- the act of furnishing with authoritative directions.
- Computers. a command given to a computer to carry out a particular operation.
Synonyms directionstar disciplinestar guidancestar informationstar lessonstar preparationstar schoolingstar teachingstar trainingstar apprenticeshipstar coachingstar drillingstar edificationstar enlightenmentstar groundingstar tuitionstar tutelage
Teaching / noun
- the act or profession of a person who teaches.
- something that is taught.
- Often, teachings. doctrines or precepts:
the teachings of Lao-tzu.
Synonyms coachingstar cultivationstar culturestar disciplinestar guidancestar instructionstar learningstar readingstar schoolingstar trainingstar tutoringstar apprenticeshipstar drillingstar enlightenmentstar tutelagestar book learningstar
Looking at the definitions including the synonyms we see that they are the same. Then why in verse 8 is instruction and teachings mentioned?
Musar is the Hebrew word for discipline which is also instruction. Which you read in the English translation of the scripture from the Hebrew translation. The word used in this translation for teachings is law. So as we go to the root of this scripture we see discipline and law are the original words used for instruction and teachings.
||Tôwrâh – ‘instruction, teaching, guidance, law’
More than Just ‘Law’
The word tôrâh (Strong’s #8451) means more than just ‘law’, its usual simplistic translation (always ‘law’ in the KJV 219x). It derives from yârâh (Strong’s #3384) meaning ‘to shoot out the hand as pointing, to show, indicate’, ‘to teach, instruct’, ‘to lay foundations’, ‘to sprinkle, to water’, ‘to shoot, as an arrow’.
Yârâh begins with the letter ‘y’ yôdh which is the picture letter of a hand whilst another word sometimes used for teaching and instruction lâmadh (Strong’s #3925) begins with picture letter ‘l’ of an ox-goad, used for disciplining and training an animal or soldiers. How much better to be taught by pointing than by poking, by the demonstration of the hand rather than the discipline of the rod.
Tôrâh then derives from a root verb which has more to do with ‘hand’ led instruction than ‘rod’ following legalism. It means:
- ‘instruction’ as from a parent to a child (Proverbs 1:8; 3:1; 4:2; 7:2).
- ‘doctrine/instruction’ via the prophets (Isaiah 1:10; 8:16,20; 42:4,21)
- ‘legal instruction’ as in the ‘law of sacrifice’ (Leviticus 6:7; 7:7)
- ‘the Pentateuch/Mosaic revelation’ (Joshua 1:8)
Regarding the last definition, it cannot exclusively mean ‘The Law’ as its first use predates the Law and is used of Abraham’s obedience to God’s revelation:
“…And all the nations of the earth shall be blessed because Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my torah.” (Genesis 26:4-5)
So Abraham was renowned and the world blessed not because of mere ‘faith’ but, in agreement with the early rabbis and the apostle James, because of his obedience to God’s torah. Torah is not just law and faith involved action and obedience.
It was also broader than ‘a Law’ for Jews only as its second use in the Bible says that there was “one torah” (Exodus 12:49) for the Israelite and for the stranger in their midst.
Its basic idea, then, is ‘instruction’ or ‘teaching’ to a valued individual rather than to a beast of burden. Even when it is legitimately translated as ‘law’ the emphasis is still on instruction. The Torah/Law of Moses might better be translated as ‘the instruction of God by revelation through Moses’.
In the modern Christian church ‘law’ has become a negative word and ‘revelation’ a positive one. But they are both the same. The famous verse in Proverbs 29:18 is usually quoted as half a verse only. Its second half, written in parallel terminology, says the same thing so that revelation and torah instruction are virtually identical:
So we listen and do not forsake the instructions and teachings of our parents. Continue reading verse 9 and we see that we are to wear these upon our head and around our neck. So what comes to your mind when you read this?
I thought about the Helmet of Salvation. How you wear the helmet on your head and then I thought about how some helmets include a collar. How do we guard our minds? We keep the Word of God in the center of our thoughts. We focus on His teachings and how He disciplines us in His love. Athletes and soldiers discipline not only their bodies but their minds. They train themselves to be able to do what is needed to perform their tasks. When we look to the Proverbs we look to the wisdom of God. For His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways. Isaiah 55:8-9 We lean not on our own understanding. Proverbs 3:5.
There are some who think we do away with the law because of grace and that the law being fulfilled we no longer need the law. The commands of God to me are eternal. Jesus said, ‘If you love me you will keep my commands.’ John 14:15. He went further when He added a command. John 13:34-35 (NKJV) A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
The 10 Commandments
- You shall have no other gods before Me.
- You shall not make idols.
- You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
- Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
- Honor your father and your mother.
- You shall not murder.
- You shall not commit adultery.
- You shall not steal.
- You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
- You shall not covet.
God’s instructions are to teach us how to live life and how to love. We look to His Word for guidance. Jesus is also known as our teacher. John 3:2. He is also the Word of God made flesh. John 1:1.
Discipline – Law / Instructions – Teachings
What do these mean to you?