Sunday, December 22, 2013

Proverbs 13:1-15:33


Chapters 13-15 of Proverbs bring us more gnomic sayings, mostly in the form of simple contrasts.

The wise woman builds her house,
   but with her own hands
   the foolish one tears hers down.
      (Proverbs 14:1)

It's nice to have a  proverb for women, even if it does confine them to the home. Gender roles in the culture that produced Proverbs were pretty strictly defined.

There is more wisdom concerning wealth and poverty.

A person’s riches may ransom their life,
   but the poor cannot respond
   to threatening rebukes.
      (Proverbs 13:8)

Clearly it is better to be rich. Does this proverb suggest that the wealthy have an obligation to protect the poor?

Proverbs 13:19 seems a non sequitur. If you can explain the connection of the two thoughts I would be obliged:

A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul,
   but fools detest turning from evil. 

Some of the proverbs seem a little obvious:

  An honest witness does not deceive,
   but a false witness pours out lies.
      (Proverbs 14:5)

But the ancient sages thought the idea important enough to repeat:

 A truthful witness saves lives,
   but a false witness is deceitful.
      (Proverbs 14:25)

The parenting advice of Proverbs 13:24 is outdated:

Whoever spares the rod hates their children,
   but the one who loves their children
   is careful to discipline them. 

Discipline, yes, but these days that rod thing will get the Department of Children and Family Services called on you.

Proverbs 14:20 could have been the inspiration for the song "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out."

The poor are shunned even by their neighbors,
   but the rich have many friends. 

The next proverb compliments this one by telling us what to do when our neighbors are poor.

It is a sin to despise one’s neighbor,
   but blessed is the one who is kind to the needy.
      (Proverbs 14:21)

And Proverbs 14:31 makes clear that kindness to the needy is God's will.

Whoever oppresses the poor shows
contempt for their Maker,
   but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

Sorrow and joy sometimes go hand-in-hand. No one else can feel your feelings.

Even in laughter the heart may ache,
   and rejoicing may end in grief.
      (Proverbs 14:13)

Each heart knows its own bitterness,
   and no one else can share its joy.
      (Proverbs 14:10)

But God knows what you're going through.

 The eyes of the LORD are everywhere,
   keeping watch on the wicked and the good. 
      (Proverbs 15:3)

Death and Destruction lie open before the LORD—
   how much more do human hearts!
      (Proverbs 15:11)

Some of the wisdom of the Proverbs is obvious. Why then is it so hard to learn?

A gentle answer turns away wrath,
   but a harsh word stirs up anger.
      (Proverbs 15:1)

Scripture quotes are from the New International Version.
Next: Proverbs 13-18

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