Wednesday

07 September 2016

“There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to [God]” (v. 16)

Psalm: Psalm 150

 

Background

Here we have the actual biblical list of 'seven deadly sins': pride, lying (deception), killing, evil scheming (conspiracy), trouble-making, lying, creating enmity. It is worth noting that lying appears twice. In the absence of robust and inevitable consequence, these may actually be the actions and behaviours of success, having much in common with marketing and politics - rather too much the more we think about it. An advantage of clearly defined descriptions of what is good or wicked is that it allows straightforward, or simple, thinking - wisdom is not complicated. Governments will justify the deaths of innocents caused by them as 'collateral damage' (drone strikes) or as achieving the greater good (Hiroshima and Nagasaki). The kinds of warfare that we are able to wage and are willing to do so are well outside Just War 'theory'. But we must not dwell too much on the negative.

Surely this text invites a more positive reading - 'Six things the Lord loves, seven fill God with delight - a humble outlook, an honest tongue, hands that protect the innocent, a mind devoted to serving others, feet that run to do good, a reliable person speaking the truth, a woman who is committed to peace and reconciliation.' Wisdom does not consist in listing what is deficient, or evil, but in striving to do better. The book of Proverbs itself does not seem to have such a positive outlook, most of its exhortations are to do with avoiding the consequences of selfish actions. This no doubt reflects the time and outlook of its context, or the ongoing reality of the human heart. Reading it now, it may stir us to respond, if we read it positively, or ask ourselves why 'good' government does so much which is denounced as bad, even under the cover of being a 'Christian' country.


To Ponder

  • What do you think of these 'seven deadly sins'? What would you include in your list of them?
  • How do you respond to positive and negative messages in Scripture?


Bible notes author:  Julian Bond

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