Friday, October 22, 2010

Proverbs 22 – The Value of a ‘Good Name’

“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,

and favor is better than silver or gold.”

~Proverbs 22:1 (NRSV).

The real pot of gold is Wisdom and a legacy and nothing of this world comes after it, in comparison. A choice remains for each of us. But know, true success is first achieved with credibility and a good reputation.

Proverbs 22 is split into two parts. The first sixteen verses are somewhat antithetical and loosely connected with each other. The remaining thirteen verses introduce ‘the Sayings of the Wise’ (which will be handled separately).

Some of Proverbs’ chapter 22:1-16 key themes include:

Parenting Advice

Verses 6 and 15 are famous in the Christian fraternity regarding approaches to parenting in the Wisdom tradition. But they’ve indeed caused much consternation in some circles about what they mean and how they’re to be applied.

When we “start” a child in the way they should go, and we continue nurturing that process throughout their childhood, we can feel confident that it will be ingrained enough, that even should they leave that way for a time, they’ll return to it.

Parents sometimes panic when, as children grow up, their children stop their spiritual growth, going to church or similar. Some even get into trouble. This can be seen as almost normal, for in some ways they’ll learn the easy way, but other ways will be harder and they must be left to fall and learn for themselves, but for a ‘quiet word’ every now and then.

All healthy young adults will seek to ‘find themselves’ and parents can all too easily hinder that process by weighing in with too much of their own advice. If they want advice they’ll come looking for it. Advice seems more sought as they really mature. The ‘parental blackout’ is usually temporary.

The “rod of discipline” in verse 15 is not necessarily talking about corporal punishment; it’s mainly about issuing consequences to promote learning, healthy growth and development. If we have a genuine interest in our children we’ll do whatever it takes to help their long term development along, even if that means some pain for us and them in the shorter term.

Finding a Good Name

Like Wisdom, the acquisition of a good name or reputation or credibility is tantamount to the most basic form of fundamental success in life (verse 1). Linked with this idea are those two things that bring “[spiritual] wealth and honor and life”—these being humility and the awed respect of the Lord so far as being positively motivated to live aright is concerned (verse 4).

When others are at the centre of our thoughts for blessing, we too will be blessed (verse 9). Those with a good name—who are pure hearted and gracious in their speech—will work for nobles (verses 11 and 29).

More Descriptions on Fools

Mockers, the wicked and sluggards (lazy people) come together to illustrate ways to go that are not encouraged. Thorns and snares lie in wait for the devious (verse 5) but those protecting themselves in Wisdom will avoid them. The wise see the danger early and they take refuge or another route (verse 3).

When the squeaky-wheeled mocker has been responsibly and swiftly dealt with, suddenly all is calm (verse 10). It doesn’t pay to pander to the selfish, the immature or the greedy.

The sluggard is enslaved, and gives undue credence, to fear. They see threats which don’t even exist (verse 13).

God is Above All and All-Knowing

Verses 2 and 12 have a common Proverbs’ theme in mind. Wealth is no separator in life, though it seems that way to us. God has made all people equal. None are favoured a hair above others. All come under God.

God is the keeper of all Wisdom and the caretaking of knowledge is the Lord’s domain. Nothing and no one will affect it, and those perjuring themselves will feel God’s most certain hot-breathed wrath.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

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