Thursday 07 November 2013

Bible Book:

“Who can say, ‘I have made my heart clean; I am pure from my sin’?” (v. 9)

Proverbs 20:1-9 Thursday 7 November 2013


You may feel that there is no link between verse one and therest of this passage. That is because verse 1 really belongs withthe previous chapter - which gives a catalogue of failures to warnthe reader. The one led astray by drink is added to a list whichincludes the scoffer, the violent and the worthless witness. Inthese verses we have second list of fools which is sandwichedwithin two statements about the power and authority of the king(verse 2 and verse 8). It is possible to see a link between theverses on kingship and the list of fools - there are particularissues in any society which is plagued by strife, the lazy who willnot work and the disloyal. Verse 2 is best seen as a statement ofthe reality of life under a monarchy (angering the king is notsimply a mistake but a possibly fatal one) rather than some kind ofcommendation of royal anger. Proverbs 19:11-12 has already argued for beingslow to anger, while admitting the reality that kings were notalways known for being so. The Jewish tradition suggests that verse9 is supposed to remind us that the king is human as well and nohuman is perfect, to balance the very positive picture given inverse 8. If so, then when reading these verses we can reflect onthe balance to be found between respecting those in authority andobeying lawful commandments on the one hand, and recognising thatno-one is above temptation on the other.

Perhaps then, these verses from Proverbs ask us to reflectparticularly on our contribution to our society, even though thatsociety may be very different from that of ancient Israel.

To Ponder

  • If you were asked to name the faults which afflict our society,which would you choose?
  • Is there a particular proverb from today's passage which youcan take with you to ponder during the rest of the day? What is it?And why do you think it jumps out at you?
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