Wednesday 23 October 2013

Bible Book:

Proverbs 3:1-26 Wednesday 23 October 2013


One of the best known verses of Proverbs is found in verse 6; averse which is often bandied about rather glibly as if discipleshipwere nothing more than a painting by numbers exercise. Perhaps itis helpful to note a distinction between a promise and a proverb.The Bible is full of the promises of God, and the disciple isrightly charged to 'stand' on these promises and to trust God to befaithful to God's word. A proverb is rather different; it is morean observation of the consequences which are likely to followcertain behaviour, a generalisation more than a guarantee. Withoutthis understanding, any reader who has known a faithful disciplewho died young, will struggle with verse 1, which seems to suggestthat "length of days and years of life" are the reward forright-living. To interpret Proverbs too literally is to do adisservice to the Wisdom which is to be found here.

Again, in verses 9 and 10, the writer claims that those who"honour the Lord with your substance" will have full barns andbursting vats. When we look at the situation around the world, weknow that is not the case. Are these verses, rather, a blueprint,an ideal, a vision of how things are supposed to be, but something,or someone, has vandalised the dream? One WorldWeek's theme for this year, "More than enough", builds onthe ethos of the Enough food IF... campaign and is a challengeto those whose barns and vats are full that it is the distributionof wealth which has gone haywire in the world today.

The theme of what true wealth might be is taken up in verses13-18. Again it is Wisdom which is to be valued above silver, goldor jewels. Had humanity sought to invest in Wisdom, to trade inunderstanding, to buy shares in the fear of the Lord, would theworld look very different today? Such assets lead to true security(verses 21-26) for they cannot be taken away, and in this way theyoutshine jewels or gold bullion. The possessor of Wisdom need fearneither the sleepless night of the investor, nor the disaster of astock market crash. Holding fast to the "tree of life" (v. 18) truehappiness is to be found. Remarkably, this Wisdom which is offeredto all is (verses 19-20) identified with the Wisdom by which theworld was created and is sustained. Wow!

To Ponder

  • Do you think it is right to draw a distinction between apromise and a proverb, or is that nothing more than playing withwords? Why?
  • In what other ways can you reconcile the fact that many aroundthe world honour God and yet have empty barns and vats?
  • What are the things you desire? How far do you agree with thewriter of this passage that none of these things can compare withWisdom? 
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