Monday

“Do you see persons wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for fools than for them.” (v. 12)

Proverbs 26:12-28 Monday 26 September 2016

Psalm: Psalm 13


Background

Two of the lead characters in the book of Proverbs are 'thewise' and 'the fool' (a pairing echoed several times in theGospels, including in the stories of the wise and foolish buildersin Matthew 7:24-27 and the wise and foolishbridesmaids in Matthew 25:1-13). The book of Proverbs (likethese parables) makes many of its most powerful pronouncements bycomparing and contrasting the actions of wise and foolish people.Prior to this passage, Proverbs 26:1-11 paints a vivid picture of thedangers of foolishness (comparing the fool to a dog returning toits vomit and an archer who wounds at random). But then verse 12delivers a staggering punchline - there is more hope for a foolthan for someone who considers themselves so wise that they havenothing left to learn.

The rest of today's passage warns against the dangers of suchindividuals who, based on the assumption that they know best,meddle in other people's arguments, spread anger and malice cloakedin words of flattery, and stir up trouble wherever they go.

Parallels can perhaps be seen in some of the discourse surroundingthis year's EU Referendum and the presidential election in the USA.Michael Gove famously declared that "the people of this country have had enough ofexperts" while President Obama has voiced his concern that ignorance should not be seen as a virtue amongthose entrusted to lead. Proverbs suggests that an unwillingness toacknowledge our own fallibility and to listen to the words ofothers can create danger, both for us and for our neighbours.

According to the Bible, the gift of wisdom comes from God, and assuch we are encouraged to trust in God and not in our ownunderstanding (Proverbs 3:5). Not to be deliberatelyself-deprecating, but to see ourselves as we truly are; "not tothink of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to thinkwith sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith thatGod has assigned" (Romans 12:3).

To Ponder

  • Many people struggle with self-esteem. How do we find thebalance between acknowledging confidently that we are "fearfullyand wonderfully made" (Psalm139:14) without 'thinking of ourselves more highly than weought'?
  • Do you think that "people have had enough of experts"? Where doyou go for information and guidance you can trust?


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