From Proverbs 22-23
Have you encountered any thorns and snares recently? The author of today’s proverbs warns his listeners away from them. So does Jesus in the gospel. Check out some more proverbs giving us guidance for wise living.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
Today’s set of proverbs considers worldly riches, the poor, wise living, raising children and injustice. There are many aspects to life and the scriptures say something about them all.
22 A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold. (Pr 22.1)
The author believes a person’s name is important.
At the end of the famous play ‘The Crucible’ by Arthur Miller, John Proctor lies and says he has been in league with the devil. He does this to spare his life and remain with his wife. The religious authorities then ask him to sign a written confession. But he refuses.
Danforth: Why? Do you mean to deny this confession when you are free?
Proctor: I mean to deny nothing!
Danforth: Then explain to me, Mr. Proctor, why you will not let –
Proctor, with a cry of his whole soul: Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!
Danforth: pointing at the confession in Proctor’s hand: Is that document a lie? If it is a lie I will not accept it! What say you?
His breast heaving, his eyes staring, Proctor tears the paper and crumples it, and he is weeping in fury, but erect.
In the play, John Proctor goes to his death to preserve his name.
What does it mean to have a good name? Is having a good name important to you?
2 The rich and the poor meet together; the LORD is the maker of them all. (Pr 22.2)
The LORD is creator of all. He cares for the rich and the poor, being above all. The Psalms in particular show God as particularly interested in the welfare of the poor and rewards those who help them.
3 The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.
4 The reward for humility and fear of the LORD is riches and honor and life.
5 Thorns and snares are in the way of the crooked; whoever guards his soul will keep far from them. (Pr 22.3-5)
Think first, then act is what the author seems to be saying here. We can all share experiences where we have done something stupid.
The author recognises the value of godly living in this life.
He values wealth and riches, public honour and long life. The rewards serve to encourage the listeners to humble themselves and fear God. That is to worship, respect, and serve him.
Life has many troubles. Some can be avoided by wise living. The crooked seem to ignore the fact that living sinfully attracts negative consequences. Under the banner of tolerance and liberty many have come to grief.
6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Pr 22.6)
Teaching children involves education and role modelling. Children in particular respond well to story telling. Unfortunately not all in Israel’s history and perhaps even our own are intentional about training their children. Perhaps the reason why is because they have no standard themselves to go by.
Have you retained some of the lessons from your childhood?
7 The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender. (Pr 22.7)
It seems these days our economies depend on debt. Society encourages it. Rare indeed is the person who refuses to go into debt. The proverb makes sense. Its a warning. Those who lend are in a position of power over those who borrow. In the law of Moses this truth is recognised. Several laws are directed for caring for those who carry the burden of debt.
8 Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity, and the rod of his fury will fail. (Pr 22.8)
He will render to each person according to his works. Injustice will be punished. Be comforted, and warned.
Story of Jesus
One of the proverbs refers to ‘thorns and snares’ (Prov 22.5). Jesus shared a parable with his disciples speaking about different types of people who respond to the gospel (Mk 4.1-9). His purpose was to let them know people will respond in different ways. He explains the parable thus.
13 And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. 16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. 17 And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. 18 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 20 But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” (Mk 4.13-20)
When we teach this parable however we are obliged to change its intention. The author of the proverbs above says;
5 Thorns and snares are in the way of the crooked; whoever guards his soul will keep far from them. (Pr 22.5)
Jesus refers to ‘the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things’ (Mt 4.19). We now assume everyone will encounter these issues in their life. Heed the warning of Jesus and the author of the proverb.
Avoid these things. Let the word bear fruit.
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2015. All Rights Reserved.