- The wisest of women builds her house,
but folly with her own hands tears it down.
2. Whoever walks in uprightness fears the LORD,
but he who is devious in his ways despises him.
3. By the mouth of a fool comes a rod for his back,
but the lips of the wise will preserve them.
4. Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean,
but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.
5. A faithful witness does not lie,
but a false witness breathes out lies.
6. A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain,
but knowledge is easy for a man of understanding.
7. Leave the presence of a fool,
for there you do not meet words of knowledge.
8. The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way,
but the folly of fools is deceiving.
9. Fools mock at the guilt offering,
but the upright enjoy acceptance.
10. The heart knows its own bitterness,
and no stranger shares its joy.
11. The house of the wicked will be destroyed,
but the tent of the upright will flourish.
12. There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death.
Comment: Today we’re back in Proverbs and each of us will get out of it what we put into it. There are 12 couplets, each pair to be considered as a unit. I will express my thoughts on just two of them.
- 1. The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down. I guess that in some sort of manic-depressive episode, in anger or distress, a woman may physically destroy her habitation. I think here it is more likely that ‘home’ refers to her ‘family’. Destroying family relationships, while some times essential, is hurting one’s own future security and potential joy. As one grows older you need more and more people with whom you have shared your life; and with whom is it better to share than a spouse, children and hopefully even later generations? The folly may be choosing an evil way of sexual behaviour; equally it may be putting professional advancement etc. above family responsibilities.
- 9.Fools mock at the guilt offering, but the upright enjoy acceptance. Reading this couplet but releasing what ‘fools’, in the book of proverbs, means. And bringing the meaning of the couplet up to date, hopefully without losing the original concepts the sentence might read-
‘Those who don’t believe in God mock the need to seek forgiveness, but those who come with integrity and sincerity enjoy their having been forgiven.’
It is not the era of making the multitude of sacrifices that the Jews of Solomon’s time did. But handling guilt is a major problem in mental disturbance. Perhaps the sentence above leads us to think about forgiveness. To know forgiveness on a human level and in our relationship with God is releasing. Our hearts long to know the joy of being forgiven. I can think of few words as rich as forgiveness. On the other hand forgiving from our side is much more releasing than harbouring bitterness – even if the other party remains obstinate in their attitudes.
I encourage you to think through these proverbs, one by one.
Prayer: Help me to have time to ponder eternally important issues.