A CHAPTER A DAY
The proverbs of Solomon, King David’s son, from Israel:
Their purpose is to teach wisdom and discipline,
to help one understand wise sayings.
They provide insightful instruction,
which is righteous, just, and full of integrity.
They make the naive mature,
the young knowledgeable and discreet.
The wise hear them and grow in wisdom;
those with understanding gain guidance.
They help one understand proverbs and difficult sayings,
the words of the wise, and their puzzles.
Knowledge begins with the fear of the Lord,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction;
don’t neglect your mother’s teaching;
for they are a graceful wreath on your head,
and beads for your neck.
My son, don’t let sinners entice you.
when they say:
“Come with us.
Let’s set up a deadly ambush.
Let’s secretly wait for the innocent just for fun.
Let’s swallow up the living like the grave-
whole, like those who go down into the pit.
We’ll find all sorts of precious wealth;
we’ll fill our houses with plunder.
Throw in your lot with us;
we’ll share our money.”
My son, don’t go on the path with them;
keep your feet from their way,
because their feet run to evil;
they hurry to spill blood.
It’s useless to cast a net
in the sight of a bird.
But these sinners set up a deadly ambush;
they lie in wait for their own lives.
These are the ways of all who seek unjust gain;
it costs them their lives.
Wisdom shouts in the street;
in the public square she raises her voice.
Above the noisy crowd, she calls out.
At the entrances of the city gates, she has her say:
“How long will you clueless people love your stupidity,
mockers hold their mocking dear,
and fools hate knowledge?
You should respond when I correct you.
Look, I’ll pour out my spirit on you.
I’ll reveal my words to you.
I invited you, but you rejected me;
I stretched out my hand to you,
but you paid no attention.
You ignored all my advice,
and you didn’t want me to correct you.
So I’ll laugh at your disaster;
I’ll make fun of you when dread comes over you,
when terror hits you like a hurricane,
and your disaster comes in like a tornado,
when distress and oppression overcome you.
Then they will call me, but I won’t answer;
they will seek me, but won’t find me
because they hated knowledge
and didn’t choose the fear of the Lord.
They didn’t want my advice;
they rejected all my corrections.
They will eat from the fruit of their way,
and they’ll be stuffed with their own schemes.
The immature will die because they turn away;
smugness will destroy fools.
Those who obey me will dwell securely,
untroubled by the dread of harm.”
Proverbs is associated with the name of Solomon, but is in fact a marvellous compendium of the people’s wisdom, practical, down-to-earth, brutal and humorous. Most cultures have their distinctive proverbs, but because these are the fruit of staying around long enough to see the results of your actions, modern globalised societies may not produce any. All the more reason for us to look to the wisdom of the past.
How can I deal with a chapter a day? Basically by dealing with what strikes me as interesting, and ignoring the rest. This is pick ‘n mix bible study which decent scholars rightly condemn, but I can rely on my readers to read the text and find their own favourites.
Verse 7 : ” knowledge begins with the fear of the Lord” I notice that many modern translations don’t like the word fear, and go for respect, reverence etc. I think fear does the job: it means that amongst all the things a sensible person fears, the Holy One who knows all things should be feared as well. The human arrogance that dismisses this fear is seen as stupid. The modern God is presented as cuddly, while fear is held to be negative. This is typical of a shallow and presumptuous view of human intelligence which is unjustified in the face of the mess human beings have made of the world. The existence of an intelligence beyond us may keep us humble.
Verse 18. “These sinners set up a deadly ambush/ they lie in wait for their own lives” Violent thugs may think that the only lives they damage are the lives of others, but they are killing themselves. This is true of thugs at every level, including states and their armies.
Verses 27, 28: when terror hits you like a hurricane, and your disaster comes in like a tornado, when distress and oppression overcome you. Then they will call me, but I won’t answer; they will seek me, but won’t find me The pandemic has worked this way. Politicians who have starved public services so that everyone could have shinier cars, suddenly realise that they had not been wise, and desperately cast around for means of rescue. They realise that their lives are in hands of people they have neglected. Will they remember when the plague is over?
Verse 32: “Smugness will destroy fools” Anytime I was smug, I was on the way to destruction. As for others, surely a sort of naff smugness is the main characteristic of Donald Trump.
I’ve picked out these bits, but actually the whole chapter is pretty good.