Friday

Proverbs 6:1-19 Friday 25 October 2013


Background

Anyone who has lived in a tropical climate can have nothing butadmiration for the ant! Ever on the lookout for the casual spill ofa sticky drink, the missed crumb in the corner of a room or theunsealed box of chocolates wrapped up as a gift, an ant colony willquickly organise its troops to invade and carry off loot many timesits own body weight! In Caribbean churches, the legs of thecommunion table may well be placed in containers of water to deterants from reaching the bread and wine before the congregation do.This simple but striking proverb extols the virtue of industry andorganisation over its opposites - sloth and disorder.

The verses exemplifying the diligence of the ant (verses 6-8)come between a short section advising prompt action to extricateoneself from the dangers of pledges and deals (verses 1-5), and adescription of the behaviour of a scoundrel or villain (verses12-15), which is characterised by undermining harmoniousrelationships in the community.

The writer then lists seven abominations to the Lord, in a formcommon in the Hebrew Scriptures and in other literature of theAncient Near East. (Indeed, much of the book of Proverbs hassimilarities to Egyptian texts which were used in the education ofroyal princes and state officials.) The haughty eyes and lyingtongue are reminiscent of other passages describing the antithesisof Wisdom - the seductress (verses24-25); thehands which shed blood, the feet which run to eviland the lying witness are the physical outworking of the heartwhich devises evil in the one who sows discord. Again the writerintertwines the need for Wisdom as a guiding principle on theinside, which will govern the practical and outward life andactions. No wonder Charles Wesley cries out for a "heart from sin set free" (Singing the Faith507) - the renewal must begin in the heart if the life of thedisciple and of the redeemed community is to be transformed.


To Ponder

  • If you can, sit and watch some ants at work - how can theirwisdom change your lifestyle?
  • "Sowing discord" (v. 19) is the mark of a villain, but it is soeasy to do. Are there habits in your own life which may contributeto a breakdown in community relationships - in your family, in yourworkplace, in your church?
  • Whilst this passage may be headed "practical admonitions" it isreally about the transformation of the heart. Ponder the words of"O for a heart to praise my God" (Singing theFaith 507) as a meditation on the renewal of the heart.
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