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Proverbs 15:29

Context

15:29 The Lord is far 1  from the wicked,

but he hears 2  the prayer of the righteous. 3 

Proverbs 21:3

Context

21:3 To do righteousness and justice

is more acceptable 4  to the Lord than sacrifice. 5 

Proverbs 28:9

Context

28:9 The one who turns away his ear 6  from hearing the law,

even his prayer 7  is an abomination. 8 

1 sn To say that the Lord is “far” from the wicked is to say that he has made himself unavailable to their appeal – he does not answer them. This motif is used by David throughout Psalm 22 for the problem of unanswered prayer – “Why are you far off?”

2 sn The verb “hear” (שָׁמַע, shama’) has more of the sense of “respond to” in this context. If one “listens to the voice of the Lord,” for example, it means that he obeys the Lord. If one wishes God to “hear his prayer,” it means he wishes God to answer it.

3 sn God’s response to prayer is determined by the righteousness of the one who prays. A prayer of repentance by the wicked is an exception, for by it they would become the righteous (C. H. Toy, Proverbs [ICC], 316).

4 tn The Niphal participle בָּחַר (bakhar, “to choose”) means “choice to the Lord” or “chosen of the Lord,” meaning “acceptable to the Lord”; cf. TEV “pleases the Lord more.”

5 sn The Lord prefers righteousness above religious service (e.g., Prov 15:8; 21:29; 1 Sam 15:22; Ps 40:6-8; Isa 1:11-17). This is not a rejection of ritual worship; rather, religious acts are without value apart from righteous living.

6 sn The expression “turn away the ear from hearing” uses a metonymy to mean that this individual will not listen – it indicates a deliberate refusal to follow the instruction of the law.

7 sn It is hard to imagine how someone who willfully refuses to obey the law of God would pray according to the will of God. Such a person is more apt to pray for some physical thing or make demands on God. (Of course a prayer of repentance would be an exception and would not be an abomination to the Lord.)

8 sn C. H. Toy says, “If a man, on his part, is deaf to instruction, then God, on his part, is deaf to prayer” (Proverbs [ICC], 499). And W. McKane observes that one who fails to attend to God’s law is a wicked person, even if he is a man of prayer (Proverbs [OTL], 623).



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