Day 149 (May 29): Listen to Wisdom, Folly is deceiving, good for Godly, ruin for wicked

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

Proverbs 8-10

Questions & Observations

Q. (Proverbs 8:15-16): These verses don’t mean that God has chosen every ruler, or has He?  In the U.S., we have had notable leaders and some not as worthy.  Then, there is Hitler, Stalin, and a bunch of other evil rulers.  Did God put all leaders in a position for various reasons?

A. No, that is not what these verses are saying.  These verses are talking about how noble kings and rulers lead well because of God’s wisdom — again personified as a personal being.

Q. (8:22-31): Who is talking here?

A. There is a Jewish tradition of seeing what we might call the “Spirit of Wisdom” which is not God, but vital to humanity.  These people valued wisdom so much that they began to see it as having “God-like” character.  It is this vital Spirit of Wisdom (always a woman) who is speaking about “her” role as God’s aide in Creation.  Don’t read it literally (i.e. this is not the “fourth” person of the Trinity), but see it as Solomon speaking personifying words into the wisdom that was so vital to his role as Israel’s leader.

Q. (9:7-8): Are these verses just underscoring the lesson that we should not judge, or is it we should not correct?  This does seem true today, that a wicked person you correct is many times not receptive to my suggestions, but someone who is wise appreciates it.

A. Neither.  The verses are saying that you should be wise in how you correct others (something we will see more of).  It is basically saying that it is foolish to waste your time attempting to correct people who won’t listen to you anyway, but the truly wise will benefit from your desire to correct.  It is not a list of rules that must be followed, but general guidance about the best ways to live: one of them being that people who just spend all of their time mocking others are very unlikely to be worth your time when it comes to potentially valuable correction.

Q. (10:2): We see this in a lot of rich, spoiled kids.  I always feel sorry for the kids who don’t have much.  I guess you can fill just as sorry for the rich kids who are filled with possessions and good times instead of love in their heart.

A. I think the key word in the verse is “tainted.”  That is, to me, wealth gained via evil or sin.  Rarely will you see wealth itself “attacked” in these verses: it can be the just fruit of a life of hard work (something Proverbs repeatedly endorses!).  But it DOES say that wealth earned via sin is dangerous, and will have no lasting value.

Q. (10:17): To me, this verse parallels the teachings that together, we are the body of Christ.  One cannot work alone and be successful for the long-term.  I always thought of this as all of our talents are needed to do the work of Jesus, but I now I see another reason here that we are to work together and seek other’s advice, experience and opinions to do our best work.

A. Indeed.  This is a repeat of what we talked about above: the wise will be open to discipline and correction in order to get better, but the evil will not.

Q. (10:18): I sometimes open my mouth talking about someone — spreading gossip.  And, every time I end up feeling like a fool.  I did this recently and felt God’s filter there, but chose to toss it aside.  It takes a long time to change a bad habit.  But, becoming pure in heart certainly speeds up the process.

A. It is certainly a succinct commentary against gossip, isn’t it?

Q. (10:29): I never thought about God’s way having two uses without it changing.  It saves the righteous, yet condemns the wicked.

A. Some of Solomon’s wisdom is rubbing off on you.  That makes you a wise person to me!  (LA: Why thank you!  : )

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