“The human spirit is the lamp of the LORD,
searching every inmost part.”
~Proverbs 20:27 (NSRV).
Out of every lurking corner is the soul that imagines no one’s looking. Very fortunate are we that we have a God who neither sneers nor condemns those blight-worthy and otherwise castigating little habits and practices of ours. Praise God for his grace!
Integrity is Calling Us Home
One of the precious shards of Proverbs 20 is the cherished quality of integrity.
We make claims about how good we are and how good our love is and yet we’re so often revealed as lesser than this (verse 6). God is calling us to understand and accept the truth—goodness, in truth, is God and that only which is sanctified in God. True integrity is in understanding this eternal paradox—that goodness only comes from God, for particular instance, when we’re in God; when we’re issuing the virtuous life.
Verse 9 propounds the aforementioned with a rhetorical question: “Who can say they’re without sin?” One admitting they’re inherently sinful is paradoxically, for that moment, owning their own portion of integrity. What a twisted spiritual reality we live!
The thing about integrity—like wisdom (Matthew 11:19)—is it’s known via its action (verse 11). If we can’t hide from God, we’re not hiding much from others either. We wear our motives on our sleeves as either ornaments or stains.
The duplicitous are found wanting for integrity as they bark their disapproval one moment and then the next they’re boasting about it to a different crowd (verse 14). It is cowardice personified. Oh those rare lips; those speaking a knowledgeable truth—rarer than gold and rubies (verse 15). This pair of lips is owned by that person with courageous integrity.
Integrity, finally, is what makes a monarch—and any leadership or administration—last (verse 28). Without it, all is forlorn.
Further Warnings Against Folly
Gossips, we know, are not only unreliable; they’re downright dangerous. We’re best avoiding the gossip (verse 19). A humbling truth for those of us scourged once with addiction—under that spell there’s no wisdom (verse 1). We must strive to get beyond it. The foolish, as we’ve encountered, are “quick to quarrel” and they add no honour to themselves for this interaction of blight (verse 3).
When we receive goods that aren’t ours the benefits devised in our minds inevitably backfire on us—this “food” becomes like “gravel” in our mouths (verse 17).
All-Knowing God and Kings
A characteristic of God that’s bequeathed upon kings and leaders is the ability to winnow the truth from circumstances (verse 8 and 26). From their ‘thrones’ they have positions to see.
Added to the theme already discussed, that of integrity, God does detest those without integrity who apply “differing weights and measures,” and God somehow knows this via Wisdom, i.e. the way life works out (verses 10 and 23). We can see by this that God sees everything (Ecclesiastes 12:14).
God’s justice is terrible. We shouldn’t seek to satisfy our own justice or revenge, but instead wait upon the Lord—for he will deliver us (verse 22). The trouble with that is God’s judgment is often far worse for the person who’s transgressed us than ours would have been. We rightfully pity them.
God directs our steps, as do our leaders (verse 24). We have no idea of our way beyond the desires implicit of our plans.
With all this knowledge we’d be rank fools to fail to consider God. There really is no hiding from the Lord.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.