From Proverbs 30-31
In today’s passage we look at several x, x+1 sayings where the author makes lists of events, animals and people to make a point. I focus in on one, What wonderful things is God doing around us? Things we do not understand?
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
Today’s passage uses a series of rhetorical figures of speech in the form x, x+1.
15 The leech has two daughters: Give and Give. Three things are never satisfied; four never say, “Enough”:
16 Sheol, the barren womb, the land never satisfied with water, and the fire that never says, “Enough.” (Prov 30.15-16)
Some people are as greedy as leeches.
The verses suggest greed is insatiable and destructive.
Sheol is the place of death. Land without water is a lifeless desert. Fire consumes everything in its path.
17 The eye that mocks a father and scorns to obey a mother will be picked out by the ravens of the valley and eaten by the vultures. (Prov 30.17)
The author criticises any form of dishonour to parents.
He predicts a future undignified death for those who mock or disobey their parents.
Dead bodies left out in the open to rot and eaten by animals are considered unclean and cursed.
18 Three things are too wonderful for me; four I do not understand:
19 the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a serpent on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas, and
the way of a man with a virgin. (Prov 30.18-19)
Which of these captures your imagination with wonder?
The author highlights the uniqueness of each of these events. No two are the same. None of them leave a trace or record of how it happened.
The allusion to sex in the last instance leads to another saying.
20 This is the way of an adulteress: she eats and wipes her mouth and says, “I have done no wrong.” (Prov 30.20)
Eating is a euphemism for the sin the woman has committed. She wipes her mouth to conceal her sin and claims her innocence. Assuming the character of a good wife.
Confess your sin to the LORD. Do not conceal it.
21 Under three things the earth trembles; under four it cannot bear up:
22 a slave when he becomes king, and a fool when he is filled with food;
23 an unloved woman when she gets a husband, and a maidservant when she displaces her mistress. (Prov 30.21-23)
The three things by which the earth trembles are amusing because they are so improbable. The author seems to commend the natural order of society, here turning it on its head as a warning to people not to overstep their place.
24 Four things on earth are small, but they are exceedingly wise:
25 the ants are a people not strong, yet they provide their food in the summer;
26 the rock badgers are a people not mighty, yet they make their homes in the cliffs;
27 the locusts have no king, yet all of them march in rank;
28 the lizard you can take in your hands, yet it is in kings’ palaces. (Prov 30.24-28)
Small is beautiful. The wisdom of the small and weak can prove to be greater than size and strength.
The LORD uses small and seemingly insignificant things too.
29 Three things are stately in their tread; four are stately in their stride:
30 the lion, which is mightiest among beasts and does not turn back before any;
31 the strutting rooster, the he-goat, and a king whose army is with him. (Prov 30.29-31)
‘Stately’. Dignified, imposing, grand. The lion is the mightiest among beasts. The rooster rules the hen house and the he-goat leads the herd. The king commanding his army comes last.
In light of these comes a warning against self exultation.
32 If you have been foolish, exalting yourself, or if you have been devising evil, put your hand on your mouth.
33 For pressing milk produces curds, pressing the nose produces blood, and pressing anger produces strife. (Prov 30.32-33)
The warning turns into an exhortation to shush. To refrain from bragging and pride. The outcome spoils (‘curds’), harms (‘blood’) and provokes (‘strife’).
“Three things are too wonderful for me; four I do not understand” (Prov 30.18). Jesus says this is the way of the Spirit.
5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (Jn 3.5-8)
Praise God that we cannot always discern his ways or what he is doing. I’m sure he does wonderful things all around us. We just have to wait and see.
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2016. All Rights Reserved.