Friday, July 24, 2009

The Way to Wisdom & Faith So You’ll Fail Not (Proverbs 24)

“If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your strength!” And so part of Saying 25 of the Thirty Sayings of the Wise goes. I like the parallel from Jeremiah: “If you have raced with foot-runners and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses? And if in a safe land you fall down, how will you fare in the thickets of the Jordan?” (12:5 NRSV) In today’s secular terms it’s, ‘Toughen up, princess!’ (I’ve never liked it because it has no empathy about it.)

The key to getting through life unscathed is become an advocate and not fall for envy. The first twelve verses of Proverbs 24 discuss this approach of turning the negatives that surround us into positives. Then there are the typical themes of trust and hope, diligence and honesty, which feature highly in Proverbs--these counter the temptations for violence and partiality.[1]

Honey, of all things, is linked with Wisdom in verses 13 and 14. Like honey, Wisdom is sweet to the taste and full of goodness, and that is where our hope is--in the good. And we can’t take the good for granted; for our hope can be cut off the instant we stray from the path of wisdom.

There’s a lot in Proverbs 24 about enemies and those who might pit themselves against us. We’re not to take justice into our own hands (v. 29) or gloat at their ruin (vs. 17, 18) for we also have the same Judge and he judges with the same gauge with no favouritism; and he abhors favouritism in us too (v. 23).

Proverbs is almost tiresome on the lazy fool, and chapter 24 gives us more explosive imagery to conclude the chapter of wise sayings (vs. 30-34). Poverty and scarcity is the lot of the lazy and we’re best set when we prioritise diligently over all our affairs (v. 27).

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

[1] Paul E. Koptak, Proverbs – NIV Life Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2003), p. 560-61.

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