Proverbs Challenge: Day Twenty-Two


Why am I doing this?  First, I need an attitude adjustment.  For me, the best way is via Proverbs.  It is a crash-course in philosophy and wisdom which has endured the test of time.  According to Jewish history, while it is primarily attributed to Solomon, it was composed years later.  We all need some wisdom once in awhile.  Currently, I think nationally, we need a heck of a lot of it, regardless what political proclivity you enjoy.

“…The ascription of the book to Solomon, in the titles and in tradition, is without valid foundation. In the Prophets and Psalms titles are admittedly not authoritative—they are based on the feeling or guesses of late scribes, not on documentary evidence—and they can not be more trustworthy here. The elaborate heading to the section xxv.-xxix. (“Proverbs of Solomon Edited by Scholars of Hezekiah’s Court”) is paralleled by the superscriptions to some of the Psalms (li., lix., lx.), which are manifestly untrustworthy. Hezekiah’stime may have been chosen by the author of this heading because he regarded the collection xxv.-xxix. as later than x.-xxii. 16, and therefore to be referred to the Augustan age of Hezekiah, which followed the golden age of David and Solomon. But there is no proof that the age of Hezekiah was Augustan; on the contrary, it was a period of conflict, and the work of editing and combining did not begin till a century or two later. Moreover, as is pointed out below, the thought of the Book of Proverbs is as alien to the Hezekian as to the Solomonic age.

In the first place, there is no trace in the book of the religious problems and conflicts of the pre-exilic period. The Prophets, from Amos to Ezekiel, are in deadly fear of foreign cults, and testify, during this whole period, that Israel is more or less given over to the worship of other gods than Yhwh and to idolatry. The polemic against such infidelity is the dominant note of the prophetic preaching down to the latter half of the sixth century. But in Proverbs there is not a word of all this. Monotheism is quietly taken for granted. There is no mention of priests or prophets (the word “vision” in xxix. 18 is a clerical error); the sacrificial ritual is almost completely ignored. Throughout the literature till the time of Ezra the national interest is predominant; here it is quite lacking—the name Israel does not occur. The religious atmosphere of the book is wholly different from that which characterizes Jewish thought down to the end of the fifth century…”

Proverbs 22

1A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,
and favour is better than silver or gold.
2 The rich and the poor have this in common:
the Lord is the maker of them all.
3 The clever see danger and hide;
but the simple go on, and suffer for it.
4 The reward for humility and fear of the Lord
is riches and honour and life.
5 Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse;
the cautious will keep far from them.
6 Train children in the right way,
and when old, they will not stray.
7 The rich rules over the poor,
and the borrower is the slave of the lender.
8 Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity,
and the rod of anger will fail.
9 Those who are generous are blessed,
for they share their bread with the poor.
10 Drive out a scoffer, and strife goes out;
quarrelling and abuse will cease.
11 Those who love a pure heart and are gracious in speech
will have the king as a friend.
12 The eyes of the Lord keep watch over knowledge,
but he overthrows the words of the faithless.
13 The lazy person says, ‘There is a lion outside!
I shall be killed in the streets!’
14 The mouth of a loose woman is a deep pit;
he with whom the Lord is angry falls into it.
15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a boy,
but the rod of discipline drives it far away.
16 Oppressing the poor in order to enrich oneself,
and giving to the rich, will lead only to loss.

Sayings of the Wise

17   The words of the wise:

Incline your ear and hear my words,
and apply your mind to my teaching;
18 for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you,
if all of them are ready on your lips.
19 So that your trust may be in the Lord,
I have made them known to you today—yes, to you.
20 Have I not written for you thirty sayings
of admonition and knowledge,
21 to show you what is right and true,
so that you may give a true answer to those who sent you?

22 Do not rob the poor because they are poor,
or crush the afflicted at the gate;
23 for the Lord pleads their cause
and despoils of life those who despoil them.
24 Make no friends with those given to anger,
and do not associate with hotheads,
25 or you may learn their ways
and entangle yourself in a snare.
26 Do not be one of those who give pledges,
who become surety for debts.
27 If you have nothing with which to pay,
why should your bed be taken from under you?
28 Do not remove the ancient landmark
that your ancestors set up.
29 Do you see those who are skilful in their work?
They will serve kings;
they will not serve common people.