As we saw yesterday- the text of Proverbs has now taken on the style that has made this 'daily reading' and 'quick hit' territory for 2500 years. Indeed, chapters 10-29 will be seemingly random, similarly structured witty sayings. If you threw in some of Benjamin Franklin's from Poor Richard's Almanac, you would have a hard time sorting what was Biblical and what was Franklin.
That leads me to a point here: this is GOD's WORD! But it also needs to be interpreted according to the genre- and I think that means we have to be careful about laying hold of these as God's promises. I have always seen this collection as wise precepts and true observations- but very general- indicating trends and stereotypes- but not intended as specific or special commands.
The proverbs are parts of a street map- but it is not the street itself. It is general comments about how character intersects with the world, but not a 'how to' and especially not 'what to do' except for the obvious- don't lie, steal, cheat, or go to the seductress.
What is emerging is an understanding of categories or themes that are randomly repeated- which I believe is of good use and purpose. These are daily vitamins and you need your dose of C and B and Folic Acid and Calcium and Zinc everyday and usually you gather them in varying ways and different amounts- but over time you stay nourished. Same thing here- every time I read these, I have one or two jump out and I think about it, which may be the Holy Spirit's way of telling me there is a deficiency or I need to prepare.
It keeps the Book from ever becoming routine. It also makes it extremely hard to memorize- my guess is on purpose.
Which one did you see more than the others? This morning it was 'false balances' in verse 1 and "Whoever troubles his own house will inherit the wind' in verse 29.
My intuition is that is Verse 1 jumped out because I am very sensitive still to the results of what happens when human agenda impacts evaluation and decision. No matter the area in life: home inspections, regulations, car problem diagnostics, money exchanges, trading of good's and services, science, and job evaluation and performance- the world and human history are daily littered with the more powerful hurting the less powerful in both large and seemingly insignificant decisions that are sometimes justified by dishonest measurements. The Lord despises a false balance- and it isn't just mechanical. We must work hard to make sure our 'inside scales' are adjusted to truth as well. We must fight to understand that human perception is easily slanted and we often judge on flaky evidence. By the way, a lack of proper accountability is a part of this formula as well. It takes courage to take up these issues and vette them properly.
Verse 29 most likely stood out because of 'inherit the wind' the title of the famous and controversial movie that is set during the Scopes/Monkey trial in TN regarding the teaching of Darwinism- talk about dishonest scales and agenda!
But I also saw it as a warning to me to make sure I am not exasperating my home right now- we are under long term boiling pressure with one graduating- need to sell our house- inevitable change. What can I do to help relieve some of the pressure? What negative things can I stop doing and what positive things can I start doing to help us?
Finally, there is beginning to be an emerging set of categories that we can begin to tinker with and slowly build a way to chart and sort these wise sayings.
Here is my starting list: just business/honest dealings- pride- honesty and other character traits- wealth and stewardship- journey/navigation/destination- tongue- action/fruit- relationship to neighbor- leadership- reputation.
At some point, as we hammer these out, we will begin to see there is plenty of spiritual nutrition for the weary soul.......