Bible blog 2291

THE BOOK OF PROVERBS

A CHAPTER A DAY

CHAPTER 4

My child, listen closely
to my teachings
    and learn common sense.
My advice is useful,
    so don’t turn away.
When I was still very young
    and my mother’s favorite child,
    my father said to me:
“If you follow my teachings
    and keep them in mind,
    you will live.
Be wise and learn good sense;
    remember my teachings
    and do what I say.

If you love Wisdom
and don’t reject her,
    she will watch over you.
The best thing about Wisdom
    is Wisdom herself;
    good sense is more important
    than anything else.
If you value Wisdom
and hold tightly to her,
    great honors will be yours.
It will be like wearing
a glorious crown
    of fair flowers.

The Right Way and the Wrong Way

My child, if you listen
and obey my teachings,
    you will live a long time.
I have shown you the way
    that makes sense;
    I have guided you
    along the right path.
Your road won’t be blocked,
    and you won’t stumble
    when you run.
Hold firmly to my teaching
and never let go.
    It will mean life for you.
Don’t follow the bad example
    of cruel and evil people.
Turn aside and keep going.
    Stay away from them.
They can’t sleep or rest
until they do wrong
    or harm
    some innocent victim.
Their food and drink
    are violence and cruelty.

The lifestyle of good people
    is like sunlight at dawn
    that keeps getting brighter
    until broad daylight.
The lifestyle of the wicked
    is like total darkness,
    and they will never know
    what makes them stumble.

My child, listen carefully
    to everything I say.
Don’t forget a single word,
    but think about it all.
Knowing these teachings
    will mean true life
    and good health for you.
Carefully guard your thoughts
    because they are the source
    of true life.
Never tell lies or be deceitful
    in what you say.
Keep looking straight ahead,
    without turning aside.
Know where you are headed,
    and you will stay
    on solid ground.

Don’t make a mistake by turning
    to the right or the left.

These early chapters of the book contain numerous repetitions. The passing of wisdom from one generation to the next is an important and repeated theme, because it does not descend ready-made from heaven, but emerges from the lives of faithful people. Yes, God is present to guide people, through the Teaching revealed to Moses, itself the result of generations of human understanding.

In the present time, some say that the speed of change invalidates the wisdom of parents, but those of us who have lived through profound changes in technology, politics, custom and philosophy, should at least be competent to advise the next generation how to cope with change. My own transition to adulthood in the 1960’s was bedevilled by the “youth revolution” which proclaimed that it was necessary to re-invent not only the wheel but also the most fundamental human relationships. As Philip Larkin noted sourly:

Sexual intercourse began

In 1963,

Between the end of the Chatterly ban

And the Beatles first LP.

The writers of Proverbs were convinced that traditional teaching about the decent life was valid across generations, being the product of God and common sense. This wisdom is considered as precious, because it helps people make the most of the gift of life. The writers could not imagine changes that might invalidate the precepts of wisdom, and even if these had to be changed or updated, wisdom itself, namely humility in seeking the good way, would be a permanent guide: “the best thing about wisdom is wisdom herself. “

Wisdom is not seen as static, but rather as generative of new goodness. The “lifestyle of good people is like the sunlight at dawn; it keeps getting brighter until broad daylight.” On the other hand stupid people are in darkness where they stumble and fall. They may think they are looking out for number one, but they are unable to see what is good even for themselves.

Practical wisdom flows from clear thinking, so people must watch their processes of thought, so that they are not blocked by their own stupidity or the influence of idiots. This precept has never been more relevant than now, when in the midst of a global crisis, so much nonsense is made public and infiltrates the thoughts of people with vacant minds. The theory that the erection of 5G phone masts is a conspiracy to spread coronavirus is a case in point, but there are many others, some the responsibility of the US president.

I wasn’t sure when I began this study, whether I would find any moral nourishment in it; but happily, there’s good food on every page.

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