Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself,
but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded.
The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life,
that one may turn away from the snares of death.
Good sense wins favour,
but the way of the treacherous is their ruin.
Every prudent man acts with knowledge,
but a fool flaunts his folly.
A wicked messenger falls into trouble,
but a faithful envoy brings healing.
Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction,
but whoever heeds reproof is honoured.
A desire fulfilled is sweet to the soul,
but to turn away from evil is an abomination to fools.
Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise,
but the companion of fools will suffer harm.
Disaster pursues sinners,
but the righteous are rewarded with good.
A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children,
but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous.
The fallow ground of the poor would yield much food,
but it is swept away through injustice.
Whoever spares the rod hates his son,
but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.
The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite,
but the belly of the wicked suffers want.
Comment: Each one of these short pithy sentences is worth thinking about. Sometimes the words chosen by the translators doesn’t seem to make sense. Translation is not an easy thing. I will give an Ethiopian example to explain what I mean. If you come across the phrase ‘begra ygebegnal’ you would think I know what that means – ‘it enters me from the left side’. Which is true but not true. It means that ‘I don’t understand’. And if they do understand it enters them from the right side ‘bekegn ygebegnal’. So many modern translations have little markers to explain where the same thought is also expressed elsewhere or even the problem that the translators have in giving the true meaning of the original language in which it was written, in this case Ancient Hebrew.
I would encourage you to stop and think after each sentence but I will just comment on two.
- The fallow ground of the poor would yield much food, but it is swept away through injustice: The Christian gospel centres around getting right with God through Jesus but then we are called upon to live showing characteristics which God honours. Justice is one of those qualities. This sentence shows the plight of many poor and the fault of many who refuse justice. And justice here reaches beyond the legal meaning of the word into the moral aspects, for instance ‘loving your neighbour is not a mere sentimental brush over but may need self- sacrificing care.
- Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. Loving one’s child must not been seen as having just an emotional sense – it means wanting the best for them! The rod may need to be a physical item, but here the phrase ‘spares the rod’ may well be as seen as meaning failure to control or discipline. Our society is experiencing the troubles which follow in not heeding this advice, for failure to discipline will lead to real problems – see Proverbs chapters 23 & 24. The concept has become succinctly summed up in the phrase ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’.
Prayer: Where I have responsibility of disciplining teach me to be loving and wise.