Sunday, April 17, 2011

Proverbs re-examined for meaning for modern times

I love how the wisdom of Proverbs is so timeless.

“Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox.” (Proverbs 14:4) I had to think a little about this one, but I realized that it could be easily translated into modern terms by saying “You have to feed your oxen for them to work for you, and you have to feed them well. If you don’t feed them enough, then they die and you will have no way of getting your work done.” Or, it could be applied to corporations. “You have to pay your workers well for them to work hard for you, then they will make you a profit. If you don’t pay them well, soon you will have no one who will want to work for you.”

Here’s one that hasn’t lost a bit of relevance: “A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.” (Proverbs 28:20) You see? They had people with get-rich-quick schemes even back in Solomon’s day! This says to me that people who try to get rich quick will break the law to do it, so in any get-rich-quick scheme you will always find lawbreakers.

Or how about this one? “The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.” (Proverbs 10:22) I think this one is a very beautiful way of saying that the Lord’s blessings are the best in the world, and they have no strings attached to them.

How’s this one for a statement about governmental policy? “In the multitude of people is the king’s honour: but in the want of people is the destruction of the prince.” (Proverbs 14:28) The king feels honored if people flock in from everywhere to be part of his kingdom. But if everyone leaves a country at the prospect of a prince ascending the throne, you know something is terribly wrong with that prince and he won’t last long. (Someone may even assassinate him.) Net immigration into a country is a pretty good indicator about quality of life there.

I even found the cause of “big government.” “For the transgression of a land many are the princes thereof…” (Proverbs 29:2) There you have it. When the people are righteous, government can be small, the princes and judges can be few, the prisons can be few. But when people are wicked, government has to grow big enough to handle them.

Now here is a confirmation of a simple diet: “When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee: And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite. Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat.” (Proverbs 23:1-3) What is the “deceitful meat”? It is food that has been so processed and so refined that there is not much nutritional value left in it. Evidently ancient royal cooks thought plain, simple food was not good enough for kings and cooked the healthy bejabbers out of it all to make something dainty and sumptuous (and which would cause royal indigestion..)

Here’s a good one for the modern day.. “As a mad man who casteth firebrands, arrows, and death, so is the man that deceiveth his neighbor, and saith, Am I not in sport?” (Proverbs 26:18-19) This one is for all those people who pull practical jokes, who pull April Fools jokes, who say something horribly mean and then say “Just Kidding!” or “Can’t you take a joke?” No, it is NOT a joke, not funny, not a laughing matter. It is damaging a person’s psyche and destroying a person’s trust in humanity.

Or how about this one? “Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.” (Proverbs 16:3) This says to me that if we commit to do the Lord’s work, then He’ll give us ideas of what we should do, and He’ll help us do it and we’ll see those thoughts become established in reality as we make those righteous dreams come true.

I think this one is very beautiful: “Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye. Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart.” (Proverbs 7:2-3) In particular, I like “keep…my law as the apple of thine eye.” I found out that the apple of our eye refers to the pupil of our eye. So when we are told to keep the law as the apple of our eye, it means to always be looking at it and reading it, to have the scriptures in sight and always read them. It also means that just like we see through our eye’s pupil, we should always look at our lives through the lens of the scriptures. It’s telling us to keep the eternal perspective.


Anonymous said...

I love your simple and relevant explanation of the Proverbs. I'm grateful that the scriptures are timeless. They really can help us now.

LeAnn said...

I always enjoy your explanations of the scriptures. Thanks, for the insight and belssings to you! LeAnn

Donna B. Nielsen said...

Love your insights--thanks for blessing us all by your efforts.