17 September 2016Proverbs 18:5-12
"Humilty goes before honour" (v. 12)
Psalm: Psalm 7:1-11
At first glance the book of Proverbs looks exactly like that - a collection of proverbs. But if you read more closely you will be able to spot certain themes or even characters. This is one such passage. It features the figure of the fool.
At the time that Proverbs was being written, the wise people of Israel did not suffer fools gladly. There was the understanding that the uneducated could become educated and receive the gift of wisdom, but this was not the case for the fool. It was as if the fool was hard wired to remain foolish, with no desire to learn or even to stop being foolish.
This passage then becomes a warning not to become foolish, nor even to stray into foolishness (verses 6-7). Note that the fool is not condemned in themselves, but it is their actions that bring trouble.
Verse 8 offers the alternative to foolishness, or even an escape from it: "The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe." It is trust and closeness to God that brings wisdom.
But the final verse warns against arrogance, lest one thinks one is better than fool - "humility goes before honour". Could Jesus have been thinking of this when he said to the disciples "the first shall be last and the last shall be first" (Matthew 19:30; 20:16)?
- Is there a particular proverb from today's passage which you can take with you to ponder during the rest of the day? What is it? And why do you think it jumps out at you?
- Is there a difference for you between a fool and someone who does foolish things? Can a fool change? Why?
- If you look closely it is possible to echoes of the proverbs in the New Testament. From your reading of Proverbs, what other examples can you find? How (if at all) does this affect the way you read the book of Proverbs?