Bible blog 2298

This blog will pursue the theme of “What we all know” by continuing a study of the book of Proverbs, which is after all important evidence for that theme, while my xtremejesus.co blog will tackle the same theme in a less disciplined way.

PROVERBS A CHAPTER A DAY

PROVERBS 9

Wisdom has built her house

    with its seven columns.

She has prepared the meat

and set out the wine.

    Her feast is ready.

She has sent her servant women

    to announce her invitation

    from the highest hills:

“Everyone who is ignorant

    or foolish is invited!

    All of you are welcome

    to my meat and wine.

If you want to live,

    give up your foolishness

    and let understanding

    guide your steps.”

Correct a worthless bragger,

    and all you will get

    are insults and injuries.

Any bragger you correct

    will only hate you.

But if you correct someone

who has common sense,

    you will be loved.

If you have good sense,

    instruction will help you

    to have even better sense.

And if you live rightly

    education will help you

    to know even more.

10 

Respect and obey the Lord!

    This is the beginning

    of wisdom.

To have understanding,

    you must know the Holy God.

11 

I am Wisdom.

    If you follow me,

    you will live a long time.

12 

Good sense is good for you,

    but if you brag,

    you hurt yourself.

13 

Stupidity is reckless,

    senseless, and foolish.

14 

She sits in front of her house

    and on the highest hills

    in the town.

15 

She shouts to everyone

    who passes by,

16 

    “If you are stupid,

    come on inside!”

And to every fool she says,

17 

    “Stolen water tastes best,

    and the food you eat in secret

    tastes best of all.”

18 

None who listen to Stupidity

understand

    that her guests

    are as good as dead.

One pillar missing

I’ve been pointing to facts that we all know, but the Wisdom tradition of the Hebrew Bible, says that we can choose not to know. The way of wisdom, that is, the habit of using our brains to live a modest, happy life, is opposed by the way of stupidity which rejects knowledge and lives by arrogance. So the precepts of wisdom, while available to anyone, are in fact unknown to stupid people.

The book of Proverbs is not embarrassed to use the word “stupid” which does not refer to intellectual ability, but to the refusal to use the intellect we have. My neighbour’s child has learning difficulties, but she knows about global warming; Donald Trump is stupid and he denies it.

Wisdom keeps an open house where everyone is welcome, but stupid people can refuse the invitation, and even abuse the hostess, “Who are you calling stupid?” The invitation is attractive, for ignorance will find knowledge and foolishness will find common sense. And the one who already has common sense will get uncommon sense! Nobody misses out in this process of learning for life. The Jewish people had the Torah which set out the ancient stories of God, and the laws of community life. Respect for God and obedience to the laws is the “beginning” that is, the basic principle of wisdom. In a society like modern Scotland, people who don’t believe in God can substitute whatever or whoever represents for them the source of goodness in the world. We ourselves are not the only inventors of goodness; it is there to be held in honour by modest people.

In fact, modesty is celebrated by this book as the personal quality most likely to lead to wisdom, while arrogance is seen as the origin of stupidity. The characterisation of Stupidity reveals it as a parody of wisdom. She also has an open house and an invitation for all. She offers the claim that stolen goods are best and selfish consumption the most satisfying. Without doubt she still sits in the high places of our towns and cities, in our news media, our social media, our banks and board rooms and even sometimes in parliaments, peddling the same wares, and there is no lack of purchasers. This passage says clearly that however powerful they are, they are stupid: they are “as good as dead.”

Question: Is this arrogant stupidity invincible? Are such people really ignorant of the facts or are they simply in denial of them. Many, I think are in denial, and can be open to the voice of wisdom, calling them back to common sense. But some indeed may have persisted so long that they have become irredeemably stupid, without any residue of truth. These are very dangerous, and must be firmly opposed.

So when I say, we all know some fact or truth, I should admit that I mean most ordinary people who are open, at least sometimes, to the voice of wisdom. The others, who are in many cases the rulers of our world, are invincibly stupid and must be isolated for the sake of the world’s health.

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