Proverbs 20: 16-30. …Some take effort to untangle!

16. Take a man’s garment when he has put up security for a stranger,
and hold it in pledge when he puts up security for foreigners.
17. Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man,
but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel.
18. Plans are established by counsel;
by wise guidance wage war.
19. Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets;
therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.
20. If one curses his father or his mother,
his lamp will be put out in utter darkness.
21. An inheritance gained hastily in the beginning
will not be blessed in the end.
22. Do not say, “I will repay evil”;
wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you.
23. Unequal weights are an abomination to the LORD,
and false scales are not good.
24. A man’s steps are from the LORD;
how then can man understand his way?
25. It is a snare to say rashly, “It is holy,”
and to reflect only after making vows.
26. A wise king winnows the wicked
and drives the wheel over them.
27. The spirit of man is the lamp of the LORD,
searching all his innermost parts.
28. Steadfast love and faithfulness preserve the king,
and by steadfast love his throne is upheld.
29. The glory of young men is their strength,
but the splendour of old men is their grey hair.
30. Blows that wound cleanse away evil;
strokes make clean the innermost parts.

Comment: I find some of the proverbs hard to understand without lots of thought and for some I would like to look up to see what others think. But when I started these devotionals I stated (?promised) that I would write only what I thought as I read the passages on which I write. Today there are several which I find hard to write about.

Example 1: 16. Take a man’s garment when he has put up security for a stranger,
and hold it in pledge when he puts up security for foreigners.
I know that it was a custom to take something to back up a debt owed. For instance Tamar took Judah’s ring when he was using her as a prostitute and used it to her advantage when he was being nasty against her later. But here it seems as if another person has lent money to a stranger. In the second half I am struggling to understand who the ‘he’ is in the second part of the couplet. Using the American standard version apparently the stranger can be translated as ‘an adulteress from another country’. At any rate I gather it is foolish to loan for those activities so you need to get an expensive surety. Whereas a bit of clothing is not worth much now-a-days in the past and still in some countries to have a change of clothing is a sign of wealth. So I think it reads – don’t be foolish as to where you loan/spend your money.

Example 2: 29. The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendour of old men is their grey hair. Maybe me being young by Methusalah’s aging, but by modern day life spans I am old; this proverb makes me think. I would love to have what I used to, but now no longer, have – physical strength, endurance etc. And what good is grey hair? Mine has gone past grey to white! I could dye my hair but it would not make me young again. So what does grey hair stand for? Respect for a live lived? Wisdom gained by living and experiencing so much? Being near the time of exchange – exchanging the shadows of earthly life for the solid truth of eternity? Which reminds me that I must go to the barber soon.

But then there are the obvious ones as well. Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel. Falsely gained things may seem sweet briefly, maybe until death, but in the end when exposed the stomach turns over and the end result is like a heaving vomit and a bile taste in the mouth!

Prayer: Please give me wisdom to make sense of all the experiences of life; please.

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