Saturday, July 25, 2009

Hezekiah’s Diligence is Our Reward (Proverbs 25)

As Proverbs 25 continues the breakaway from the Sayings of the Wise, and begins a specialisation all its own (Kings, finery of character, and dignity to name a few) we get a glimpse of the end of the corpus. It’s at this point, of course, where the Greek Septuagint (LXX) version of the Scriptures goes a little haywire in the order of the proverbs, compared with what’s documented for us in today’s Bibles.

It’s almost as if these proverbs were handpicked by a king; indeed they were written by a king, attributed at least, to King Solomon. So anyone desiring to think like a king (extrapolate that also to ‘think like God’) here’s their chance. After all, what’s the best investment any one person can make in, and for, themselves? Rhetorically, of course, it’s the personal and frenetic search for Wisdom, and to become her constant companion and protégé.

Most of these proverbs speak about what is fitting. It is not fitting, for instance, for a good ruler (many roles in today’s terms including ‘leader’) to have morally incompetent people following him or her (v. 5) and the morally-competent ruler (leader) will slowly winnow them out. If they don’t, they themselves stand to fall.

There is a remarkability of ‘like’ complementary proverbs here giving us cues from rich imagery stirring the imagination to downright stock dead fact. There’s nine of them, all occurring in three’s (vs. 12-14, 18-20, 25-[27]28) (with the one minor latter exception). These are akin to the parables of Jesus, like the Lost Sheep/Coin/Son (Luke 15), or the Sower, Growing Seed and Mustard Seed (Mark 4) allegories. In their own compressed form these sets of proverbs provide a way for the open mind to re-imagine truth in a personally vibrant way.

Verses 25-[27]28 are I think about desire and courage. We desire good news and it rarely comes in comparison to humdrum life; it’s received like cold water after a walk on hot summer’s day. The virtue of courage is one of the most important things for the morally-diligent; any dilution of the commitment to courage would be disastrous. We see this all the time.

When we lose self-control, we lose much more. And there’s an important alignment here in verse 27b with verses 6-10. We must be prudent with what we say and how we say it, indeed how we position ourselves. Claim ground that’s not ours and we’re put back in our box very quickly! To enter into gossip--and yes, it might seem alluring--means the inevitable stain of hard cost that lingers--a bad reputation we may never lose (v. 10). Such outlay! It need not be like this...

We’re called to enter into what’s fitting.

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved.

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