The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:
2 for gaining wisdom and instruction;
for understanding words of insight;
3 for receiving instruction in prudent behavior,
doing what is right and just and fair;
4 for giving prudence to those who are simple,
knowledge and discretion to the young—
5 let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance—
6 for understanding proverbs and parables,
the sayings and riddles of the wise.
7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools[c] despise wisdom and instruction.
8 Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction
and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
9 They are a garland to grace your head
and a chain to adorn your neck.
10 My son, if sinful men entice you,
do not give in to them.
11 If they say, “Come along with us;
let’s lie in wait for innocent blood,
let’s ambush some harmless soul;
12 let’s swallow them alive, like the grave,
and whole, like those who go down to the pit;
13 we will get all sorts of valuable things
and fill our houses with plunder;
14 cast lots with us;
we will all share the loot”—
15 my son, do not go along with them,
do not set foot on their paths;
16 for their feet rush into evil,
they are swift to shed blood.
17 How useless to spread a net
where every bird can see it!
18 These men lie in wait for their own blood;
they ambush only themselves!
19 Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain;
it takes away the life of those who get it.
20 Out in the open wisdom calls aloud,
she raises her voice in the public square;
21 on top of the wall she cries out,
at the city gate she makes her speech:
22 “How long will you who are simple love your simple ways?
How long will mockers delight in mockery
and fools hate knowledge?
23 Repent at my rebuke!
Then I will pour out my thoughts to you,
I will make known to you my teachings.
24 But since you refuse to listen when I call
and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand,
25 since you disregard all my advice
and do not accept my rebuke,
26 I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you;
I will mock when calamity overtakes you—
27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm,
when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind,
when distress and trouble overwhelm you.
28 “Then they will call to me but I will not answer;
they will look for me but will not find me,
29 since they hated knowledge
and did not choose to fear the Lord.
30 Since they would not accept my advice
and spurned my rebuke,
31 they will eat the fruit of their ways
and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.
32 For the waywardness of the simple will kill them,
and the complacency of fools will destroy them;
33 but whoever listens to me will live in safety
and be at ease, without fear of harm.”
Two things struck me in this opening to Proverbs: Wisdom as a commodity and the idea of knowledge not coming without correction. Let’s start with the first theme.
As I was pondering this chapter, the idea of Wisdom as a commodity was one that struck me as interesting. Really, I’m just introducing that theme here and will be reading with an eye towards that theme as I go on. Wisdom, in this chapter, graces and adorns it’s master like a garland or chain – in other words, precious goods. Something that can be traded, bought, or sold (1:9) Later, the wicked are warned they will “eath the fruit of their ways,” (1:31), which admittedly is not the way of wisdom, but we’re all familiar with the phrase “fruit of thy labors,” which again, implies payment of some sort. What does this mean overall? I’m not sure yet, but the word ‘wisdom’ is used 218 times in the NIV Bible I generally reference (yay, Google searches!), so there will be plenty of times to see this theme develop, if it does.
The second theme, of knowledge coming hand-in-hand with correction, is one I think we all could do well to remember. I know I can be a rather prideful person, often bristling when people with very good intentions simply point out improvements, let alone correct mistakes. My husband can testify to how defensive I get after writing our farm’s yearly business plan and giving it to him for review.
I see this idea, this-hand-in hand relationship between wisdom and rebuke, as a reminder to make full use of all the teaching moments presented to us in life, and not to be afraid of a differing viewpoint. That doesn’t mean you have to question all your beliefs all the time, but don’t be afraid to grow in your faith, as well. I, for one, didn’t believe in same-sex marriage when I was younger, and saw the gun debate as a red herring for mental health issues. Now, I fully support same-sex marriage because I see it as an expression of love, and I believe that God is, above all else, supremely loving and would approve of people sharing their love. Also, while I still believe mental health is a very important issue in this country, I also believe that stricter gun laws should be in place because they would protect some of our most vulnerable brothers and sisters – namely children and those contemplating suicide. I hope that I am growing in my faith and ability to be a loving person. I hope I continue to grow. And, I will try (and I’m sure sometimes fail) to see disagreements, corrections, and suggestions as opportunities to gain wisdom, and grow as a person. True, it’s not a revolutionary idea, but it is one that bears repeating. Let’s all try to be conscious of this next time we feel the need to be defensive, and see what we can gain.