That wasn't IN THERE last time! Bible Journey Day 7
Bible Journey – Day 7 – 22 Sept 2009
Volatile! Handle with Care!
Proverbs 20:16-22:16 (all quotes from NET. translation)
The one who shuts his ears to the cry of the poor,
he too will cry out and will not be answered. A gift given in secret subdues anger,
and a bribe given secretly subdues strong wrath. Doing justice brings joy to the righteous and terror to those who do evil. (Pro 21:13-15 NET.)
Proverbs is not a book to be handled flippantly. More than almost any other book, the style and content of Proverbs can lull the unsuspecting reader into a false sense of complacency – a situation where either you feel like patting yourself on the back, or where with one glance you really think you get what Solomon is saying.
Then you encounter little groupings like the verses above, which smack you in the face and remind you that these proverbs have a historical and a literary context that is ignored only at great peril to the reader.
Most of the proverbs, we believe, were written by King Solomon, the great son of David who chose wisdom when offered a selection of wealth, glory, and wisdom. Solomon, the king with 300 wives and 700 concubines. Solomon who wants to pass along some of his wisdom to his son who will rule after him. If you know the story very well at all, you know how poorly Rehoboam heeded his father’s teaching. Nevertheless, we must not forget that most of these proverbs were written by an Ancient Near Eastern king to his son. That’s why there’s so much advice about choosing a virtuous, prudent, and wise wife and avoiding prostitutes and contentious women.
And, I submit, that’s why the proverb nestled in the middle of the paragraph above finds its way into the canon. In many other places, Solomon warns against injustice, and how a wise king will rule fairly and care for the poor. But any king ruling in the world we live in would think himself foolish if he were not to remind his son that sometimes, “greasing the wheels” can help get the job done.
Proverbs is not cotton candy, and it isn’t Aesop’s fables. The New Atheists (Chris Hitchens especially) tee off on Mother Teresa because she wasn’t all cotton candy and sweetness and light; she wasn’t above some heavy-handed actions in her service to the poorest of the poor in India.
Tell me: I’m really curious! How does Proverbs 21:14 make you feel? How do you feel about it being in Scripture? Does it have anything to suggest to us about the nature of inspiration? I tell you, it has been on my mind all day! When I read that verse this morning, I had one of those “That wasn’t IN THERE last time!” moments! How about you?
In HIS love,