Showing posts with label How Not to Crash and Burn. Show all posts
Showing posts with label How Not to Crash and Burn. Show all posts

Saturday, September 07, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (75)

A 2009 University of Canterbury psychological study of long-term couples turned up an interesting fact: ‘marriage goggles’ are every bit as real as ‘beer goggles’. On average, men in happy marriages rated their wives as notably more attractive than their wives rated themselves. (If you’ve ever gone dress shopping with your wife, that will probably not surprise you.) Furthermore, notwithstanding the ravages of age, men in happy marriages consistently rated their wives more attractive than third parties rated them.

This may help explain why women who abandon their partners in their forties and fifties for an internet fling often wind up alone. Nobody will ever find them quite so attractive as their former husbands will. Even if they would like a do-over, there simply isn’t enough time left to them to build that sort of bond all over again.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (74)

How can you tell whether a woman fears God? It’s not a trick question, but it does strike me that the fear of God tends to work itself out in different ways depending on the role and responsibilities of the person in whom it is found. It will not always look the same from individual to individual.

For example, a father and husband who fears God prioritizes financial provision for his family. A child may display his fear of God through obedience to his parents. A wife and mother? Well, care for the affairs of her husband and family is certainly one way, but so also is her composure and self-control. Taken together with other character qualities, these things point to a healthy respect for the will and glory of God.

Continuing our look at the character qualities of the proverbial “excellent wife” ...

Saturday, August 24, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (73)

On my way home from work I try to keep an eye out for people begging in the street. I don’t mean on the sidewalk, but literally in the lanes of traffic at almost every red light, on foot and in wheelchairs, sometimes panhandling so aggressively that you could easily run them over if you weren’t paying attention.

As it turns out, coming right up to within inches of a seated driver locked in traffic and staring down at him is a considerably more effective motivation for charity than holding out a plaintive hand to passers-by on the sidewalk, who can easily escape by foot. Women driving alone are especially intimidated by grimy, glowering teens wielding squeegees, and quickly (and unwisely) reach for their purses, probably hoping to save their vehicles from a kick, a scratch or a flying blob of spit.

That’s a long way of saying not all giving is inspired by generosity.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (72)

As mentioned in previous posts, the specific details of the wife’s labors in Proverbs 31 are largely unimportant. It is the character qualities they show us that matter most. The fact that these verses speak of fields and vineyards does not limit wifely excellence to the spouses of farmers. Let’s not discourage ambitious, creative married women living in modern urban settings. An excellent wife today might write or edit books, give music lessons, provide after-school care for neighborhood children or popularize her own YouTube channel.

Okay, maybe not YouTube. These days, anything excellent on YouTube is guaranteed to get demonetized.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (71)

As mentioned in the previous two posts in this series, the description of an excellent wife in Proverbs 31 is frequently dismissed by its modern critics as anachronistic. They point to words like “distaff” and “maidens” and mockingly inquire whether all Christian women ought to have a loom in the house and servants to call on.

It is true that the excellent wife’s described routine is that of a fairly well-to-do Hebrew woman some three thousand years ago. That said, it should be evident that our habits and routines declare to the world what sort of person we are. A wife who habitually falls asleep on the couch at 2 a.m. after a few cocktails and a movie, then struggles out of bed bleary-eyed around noon to lounge by the pool gossiping with her girlfriends is not simply operating on a slightly different schedule than the home-schooling mother of three down the street. Her habits are making a statement about her values and character.

Good character remains good character whether we see it displayed in the daily activities of 1000 BC or in those of AD 2019.

Saturday, August 03, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (70)

A few more general comments before we get to the meat of the chapter.

The Oracle of King Lemuel (Proverbs 31:10-31)

Poor, much-maligned wife of the last chapter of Proverbs! Google her and see. After you get through the usual spate of citations from major commentaries, much of what you find is Christians complaining.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (69)

Quick quiz: whose oracle is this? Why, it’s King Lemuel’s, as taught to him by his mother. This fact is unequivocally established in the very first verse. The words express her beliefs; the good king simply put them on paper for the rest of us.

This fact is central to any un-triggered reading of the passage: a woman taught her son which character qualities and habits define an excellent wife and make for a happy home. Lemuel’s mother does not insist he exclude women from consideration who do not measure up to her lofty standards. She doesn’t have to. Her preference is very evident.

In short, these verses cannot easily be dismissed as the misogynist rantings of the evil patriarchy; at least not if we believe in the inspiration of scripture.

Some women really hate that.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (68)

Throughout history kings have been given opportunities to do good and evil on a scale unlike almost anyone else.

When focused on the welfare of their kingdoms, the benefits they could confer on their subjects were immense. When exacting vengeance from their enemies, the damage the greatest of monarchs could inflict was almost incalculable. And when they devoted themselves to self-indulgence, their excesses were the stuff of legends.

Even today, when monarchs are little more than figureheads, these royal celebs have in their grasp the potential to do both harm and good far beyond the ordinary man or woman.

“With great power,” as they say …

Saturday, July 13, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (67)

A lot of things change in three thousand years, but human nature is not one of them. I am always astounded to find how many of the ancient Hebrew proverbs remain relevant today, if not directly, then certainly by application.

We are looking at the last five verses of Agur’s oracle, which include the last of his six observational quaternions of lists (seven total).

This one is maybe a bit more difficult to work out …

Saturday, July 06, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (66)

Everybody loves an underdog.

Ask any sports fan. We are always delighted to cheer the overcomer, the up-and-comer, and the unexpected victory from the team that wasn’t expected to get it done. It’s called bandwagoneering, and it happens regularly in cities whose teams haven’t won in years. People with no previous interest in basketball, baseball or football suddenly start talking about the home squad as if they are family members.

But underdogs are not just a regular feature of professional sports. Creation has plenty of them on display. The best thing is that these natural examples of overcoming were not cobbled together at last minute with millions of dollars at the trade deadline; rather, they were designed by God to teach us all lessons of enduring value.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (65)

As we have noted in previous installments, there are different kinds of proverbs. One very common sort is the command. An example: “Do not add to his words lest he rebuke you.” Another is the warning: “The eye that mocks a father ... will be eaten by vultures.” A third is the appeal: “Give me neither poverty nor riches.” All these teach us in different ways.

Agur’s favorite type of proverb was none of the above. More than anything else, Agur was a keen student of the natural world. His proverbs are primarily observational. He may draw the occasional moral conclusion explicitly, but for the most part he simply tells us how things are and lets us chew on that for a bit.

It’s not a bad strategy. I’ve been enjoying it.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (64)

Psychology Today analyzes excuses for adultery. Here’s one of the more spectacularly trivial:

“Adultery may be the lightning conductor of modern indignation, but are there not other, subtler ways of betraying a person than by sleeping with someone outside the couple; by omitting to listen, by forgetting to evolve and enchant, or more generally and blamelessly, by simply being one’s own limited self?”

I must admit, that one’s a beauty: “My wife failed to evolve and enchant me, so I was compelled to explore my options. There was really nothing else for it.”

What do you think, gents? Have you been “evolving and enchanting” fast enough for your wife?

Saturday, June 15, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (63)

I was originally planning to zip through these last few verses of Proverbs, but I find myself enjoying them too much to rush through them, even as I remain perplexed as to their full meaning in more than a few cases. I suppose it helps that they are among the least-examined verses of scripture I’ve ever encountered. New territory is always interesting.

So … horrors and marvels, here we go.

Saturday, June 08, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (62)

Entropy is pretty much the governing principle of our present universe. Systems and sub-systems are not independently or permanently functional. They require replenishing from other sources.

The earth cannot survive without sunlight. The sun could not warm the earth were it not fueled by both hydrogen and helium. And without the collapsing clouds of interstellar gas and dust we call nebulae, there would be no stars.

Saturday, June 01, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (61)

The remainder of Proverbs 30 is made up of a series of individual sayings irregularly interspersed with six lists of four things Agur has observed in the natural world and in the world of human interaction. As I have mentioned, these groups of four are often referred to as quaternions or tetrastiches. We have already encountered one in Agur’s introduction. The resulting verses are a peculiar arrangement; not entirely regular, but not quite random either.

Unlike some of Solomon’s longer assembled proverbs, Agur’s lists do not seem to have a single, powerful point to which they are building. The fourth item on each of his lists usually appears no more significant or insignificant than the others. As the Pulpit Commentary puts it, “the conclusion is wanting.” We must attempt to elicit one for ourselves.

Notwithstanding some of the more astute observations we find here, it’s a curious chapter, and one whose point always perplexed me as a child.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (60)

We are still in the penultimate chapter of Proverbs, and while there are expositors who disagree, I believe we are now reading the words of Agur rather than the words of Solomon.

Unlike the great king of Israel who was granted exceptional wisdom by God, Agur seems to be nothing more impressive than an average devout man observing the world. All the same, by the Spirit of God, he has left us with a few useful reflections. After all, James tells us, you don’t need to be a king to be wise. All it takes is asking in faith.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (59)

To call Agur an obscure Old Testament character would not be out of line.

The first twenty-nine chapters of the book of Proverbs set out the compiled wisdom of Solomon. Obviously not all of it; we’re told he wrote 3,000 proverbs and an additional 1,005 songs, so this is the tip of a large iceberg. It’s a pretty impressive resume by any standard.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (58)

Three of these final nine Solomonic proverbs address masters and thieves.

For the thief, there is a certain excitement and freedom from the moral strictures others are required to observe, but these come with the potential hazard of arrest, prosecution and punishment. Flaunting society’s rules always brings with it the possibility of eventual payback. And while it is certainly a better lot in life overall to be master rather than servant, that role brings with it responsibilities, decisions and difficulties neither slave nor employee really has to trouble themselves about.

Though very different, neither master nor thief is always a desirable role to play.

Saturday, May 04, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (57)

Who are you? Who am I really? Good questions.

Well, we are the sum of any numbers of things, including but not limited to what we think, what we do, and — by far the most important — who we are in God’s eyes.

What do we really feel in our hearts when we’re under intense emotional pressure, and how would we react if everyone could see that on full display? What do we allow ourselves to engage in for the sake of polity or social acceptance, and is that consistent with what we claim to believe? How does God distinguish between us? What are his metrics?

Three consecutive proverbs contribute to the discussion.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (56)

Egotists and self-interested people are the bane of civilization.

Once upon a time, a nation divided up its countryside and farmed it. Everyone did roughly the same thing and required approximately the same knowledge and physical skills.

Then came city life and with it the need for specialization. No longer self-reliant and autonomous, those who embraced urbanization came to prize men and women who could manage the affairs of thousands efficiently. When they did it well, everybody enjoyed life. When they did it poorly and selfishly, everybody suffered.

Solomon comments on aspects of this phenomenon.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (55)

Those who rule over us pay more attention to the small nuances of our lives than we might think.

Never has this been truer than in the information age, when all kinds of micro-details — true, false and grossly misleading — may be compiled into an executive summary with the click of an icon. That said, it is good practice to assume those who have the authority to call us to account are smarter than they sometimes appear. My own boss is able to find out a surprising amount about my work habits and relationships for the purpose of annual reviews, most of it via word of mouth from other employees.

Here are several proverbs that probably originated in King Solomon’s meditations as he observed the daily habits of the subjects of the kingdom he administered, and reflected on the performance and character of its officials.

Maybe one or two of them even noticed he was doing it.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (54)

The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.

These are well-known biblical truths, and yet notwithstanding the accumulating evidence that possessions and happiness are quite unrelated, the stampede to acquire as much as possible as quickly as possible never abates.

Three of these next ten verses are about money: those who have it, those who don’t, and those who are trying to get it.

Saturday, April 06, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (53)

We are coming to the final few Solomonic proverbs assembled by the men of King Hezekiah. Probably at this point the transcribers had run out of bigger themes to explore. All forty-five which remain are two-liners that appear unrelated to one another.

Their brevity is no reflection on their quality. More than a few of the most famous and familiar proverbs you will hear quoted by Christians come from this section of the book.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (52)

Nobody likes being tested. Jordan Peterson talks about taking the LSAT:

“I wanted to become a corporate lawyer — had written the Law School Admissions Test, had taken two years of appropriate preliminary courses. I wanted to learn the ways of my enemies, and embark on a political career. This plan disintegrated. The world obviously did not need another lawyer.”

Admittedly, you have to read between the lines there, but it sounds like it didn’t go well.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (51)

Perhaps the theme of these ten verses is “things that don’t stop”. I can’t say for sure.

But it is certainly true that the simple don’t stop; they charge right in where their wiser peers do not. The loud neighbor doesn’t stop either. That’s why everyone hates him, despite his outwardly cheery disposition. The search for truth never stops, thank God, and, if we’re honest, neither does enmity in our present age. Finally, the eyes of mankind never stop in their endless quest for satisfaction.

We will not find what we are looking for in this world.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (50)

Today’s verses are vaguely linked by the unexpected: unanticipated changes in circumstances; sudden, radical changes in behavior; the moment when the thing on which you have glutted yourself loses its appeal; and the moment when you find you have become so hungry anything at all looks like food.

Hey, these things happen. We don’t always see them coming, but they happen.

Saturday, March 09, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (49)

Did you know there are very few references in the Bible to domesticated dogs? Maybe the puppies under the dinner table in Matthew 15, but that’s about it.

Moreover, the Bible does not have much good to say about man’s best friend. I don’t have a real handle on canine history in the Middle East 3,000 years ago, but I can work my way through the entries in a concordance, and the picture isn’t pretty. There are no Shih Tzus in arms or Chihuahuas in purses. The average mutts on the street are scavengers or predators, more like wolves or jackals than Jack Russells. The word “dog” is both a Hebrew and Greek euphemism for a male cult prostitute or some other sort of really bad person. If you want to grovel, you refer to yourself as a dog, and if you want to really grovel, a dead dog.

Saturday, March 02, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (48)

Growing up, I knew teens who never skipped school, never called in sick for work just to goof around, and wouldn’t think of failing to do their chores when they got home. You probably did too.

Proverbs repeatedly highlights unhealthy ways to behave. That’s great if you and I are tempted by those habits or lifestyles: a timely warning to a wise man or woman is always a useful thing. But what if we are not subject to such temptations? Are proverbs of any use to people who seem like they came out of the womb already mature, competent and dutiful?


Saturday, February 23, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (47)

Our Bible is full of moral lessons taught with food. The fruit of a very special tree in Eden. Manna and quail in the wilderness. The leeks and garlic of Egypt. The widow’s jar of flour and jug of oil. Five loaves and two fishes. The bread of heaven. The leaven of the Pharisees.

And honey. Why not? Honey is loaded with carbohydrates and natural sugars. It takes approximately seventeen minutes of brisk walking to burn off the 64 calories your body gets from eating a single tablespoon. In Israel, honey was the … er … gold standard for a luxury food item. Canaan was, after all, the land of milk and honey.

All today’s proverbs are about food, and two are about having too much of a good thing.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (46)

“These also are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied.”

So begins the fifth major division of the book of Proverbs. It is made up of approximately 110 more bits of Solomonic wisdom of varying lengths.

As you are likely aware, Hezekiah king of Judah was no contemporary of Solomon. Solomon reigned over Israel from 970-930 B.C. or thereabouts, while Hezekiah did not appear on the scene until well over 200 years later. He died a little over 100 years before the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem, but for 73 of those 100 years Judah was ruled by evil men. Some of these were merely weak, others truly depraved, but one way or the other, wickedness was pretty much the defining characteristic of Judean rule leading up to Judah’s captivity.

It’s a fair bet nobody copied Solomon’s proverbs during those years.

Saturday, February 09, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (45)

Way back last April of last year when we started looking at Proverbs, I mentioned in passing that the book falls into seven fairly obvious divisions. We have now arrived at the fourth of these, which is a short group of lengthier “do” and “don’t” instructions prefaced with the words “These also are sayings of the wise.”

Translated literally from Hebrew, verse 23 begins, “These words belong to the wise.”

Saturday, February 02, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (44)

Two of our final five entries in Solomon’s Thirty Sayings speak about the future. Their point? That those who act wisely have one, while evil men do not.

The Hebrew word translated “future” is 'achariyth. It means an end, a latter time, or a posterity. In brief, the idea is that Someone Transcendent is governing time and watching over the world. Nothing done or not done adds up to nothing. All is being tabulated and will have its consequences down the road.

It therefore makes sense to govern ourselves accordingly, no?

Saturday, January 26, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (43)

Proverbs is an ancient book. While it addresses the human condition and therefore remains profoundly relatable, it also contains plenty of references to things we might assume we understand, but generally do not — at least not fully.

For example, the “gate” of 24:7 is not the gate of a house, and “folly” is not merely the condition of immaturity or silliness. It takes familiarity with Old Testament usage to recognize there may be more than meets the eye to these few lines of antiquated-but-not-irrelevant advice.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (42)

We’re past the halfway point of the Thirty Sayings, and so far we’ve covered a wide range of topics. This week’s selection is no exception: the importance of truth, the joys of parenting, and warnings against adultery, alcohol abuse and crime.

If there’s a way to wreck your life or to make it better, God has something to say about it.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (41)

There’s a little something for almost everybody in this week’s selection of proverbs: children, parents and seniors, alcoholics and other people with out-of-control habits, and most especially their enablers. Even the envious get a quick name-check.

Never let it be said that the Bible isn’t practical …

Saturday, January 05, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (40)

In his short story “The Rich Boy”, writer F. Scott Fitzgerald commented that “The very rich are different from you and me.” I never watched Dynasty or Dallas, and I’ve been in few very rich people’s homes in the course of my life, but I’m pretty sure he wasn’t wrong. Their conventions are different, their habits are different, their way of thinking is different.

Even their temptations are different, but we can still learn something useful from considering them.

Our second set of five of Solomon’s “thirty sayings” have a fair bit to do with power and money.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

How Not to Crash and Burn (39)

I’m going to work my way through all thirty of these longer “sayings” in chapters 22-24 of Proverbs, not least because I’ve skipped so lightly over the last ten chapters, but also because, well, they’re just that good.

There’s much more in each of these sayings than I can possibly bring out in a few lines, and every one of them is worthy of serious meditation.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

How Not to Crash and Burn (38)

If you were here with us back in the second installment of this series on Proverbs, you may recall that for ease of reference I divided the book into seven sections and an introduction. We have now reached section 3.

With perhaps one exception I can currently recall, section 2, the longest in the book, is filled with two-line proverbs. The advantage of two-liners is that they are tremendously memorable. The disadvantage we discovered is that in the absence of context — and proverbs are by their nature decontextualized — the briefer a sentence in Hebrew, the more difficult it is to discern its meaning.

That’s a pretty significant disadvantage.

Thirty Sayings

The following is my own breakdown of the divisions between the Thirty Sayings found in Proverbs 22:17-24:22. It differs from some others in that it seems to me Solomon occasionally adds editorial comments to his sons that are unrelated to any specific “saying”. I believe these to be more general in nature and simply reiterate the desire he expresses in his introduction that they take seriously what he has written to them.

Alternatively, they may introduce specific sayings and add force to them.

I have noted these asides in brown.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

How Not to Crash and Burn (37)

The rich and the poor, the faithful and the faithless. There’s something for everybody in Proverbs.

Assorted Proverbs (Proverbs 22:1-16)

Where Rich and Poor Meet

“The rich and the poor meet together;
  the Lord is the Maker of them all.”

Many translations read “The rich and poor have this in common”. I think this is the correct sense. The wealthy and the impoverished certainly pass one another by in society (it would be hard for the rich to enjoy their riches without servants, for instance), but you can hardly call what they are doing “meeting together”. There are few points of agreement or association between them, and the poor have a scarcity of remedies available to do anything about it. There is no negotiation to be had, and the occasional revolution provides the only possible relief. Ask the French.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

How Not to Crash and Burn (36)

Some situations are not in our control. For the average man or woman, this is often the case. We may take comfort in the knowledge that our heavenly Father is able to do for us far more abundantly than all that we ask or think.

More often, though, we might observe that the course of our lives is a product of choices we have made day after day when we got out of bed in the morning, or when we found ourselves with our backs against the wall.

Three more-or-less random proverbs speak to these situations.

Saturday, December 01, 2018

How Not to Crash and Burn (35)

I’m writing at the office today, so it’s time for an office-themed post.

Our Bible’s Solomonic proverbs are roughly 3,000 years old. The ones the king of Israel preserved from other sources are even older. Still, many remain surprisingly useful and informative — even when we attempt to apply them to the goings-on in a modern commercial office building.

Here are three that still work. Mostly.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

How Not to Crash and Burn (34)

In raising his children, my father maintained a keen sense of the big picture. He would always encourage my mother when things seemed most hopeless. I can assure you that happened with regularity: my father traveled, and Mom had an unvarnished, highly realistic, frequently-reinforced view of all the basest aspects of male teen behavior.

Somehow she survived. Hope, maybe.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

How Not to Crash and Burn (33)

Antisocial behavior, innuendo, laziness and false confidence: there’s a lovely quartet for you.

Misty water-colored memories. Four more ancient proverbs, each of which reminds me of somebody I know or knew, usually more than one. Sometimes they remind me of me. Times change, people don’t. Not really.

Thankfully we have the word of God to guide us, because not too many of us seem to learn much from history.

And they don’t really teach history anymore anyway.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

How Not to Crash and Burn (32)

Some proverbs are absolutely straightforward. Perhaps most were in their day. For example, when we read “An evildoer listens to wicked lips, and a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue,” it is all-but-impossible to misunderstand. Much might be said by way of application, and examples could be cited both from scripture and personal experience, but the basic concept is not the least bit enigmatic.

Others? Well, time, linguistic and cultural differences have a way of obscuring meaning.

Saturday, November 03, 2018

How Not to Crash and Burn (31)

The Western world has no lack of powerful people. Still, the rulers of today’s first world countries are constrained to a much greater extent than many of us think by the political systems in which they operate and by the vagaries of public opinion.

All Western leaders test the political climate with internal polling before making significant moves. Canada’s Justin Trudeau, for instance, rarely makes even a public statement without his entire inner circle weighing in. Donald Trump, often accused of being unilateral and arbitrary, accepts the rulings of lower court judges and the limitations of working through Congress.

I suspect the Israelites of Solomon’s day might not recognize our leaders as real “rulers” at all.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

How Not to Crash and Burn (30)

Disappointment, despite, laziness ... if you take the verses I’ve chosen from Proverbs 15 as representative of the whole, you might get the idea that Solomon’s a bit of a wet blanket.

Thankfully, for nearly every sluggard he describes, there is an upright man. For every broken spirit there is a “tree of life” and a “healing tongue”. For every grieved mother there is a rejoicing father.

It all depends how you want to look at his instruction, and what you decide to take away from it.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

How Not to Crash and Burn (29)

The book of Proverbs is one of the very few places in scripture where context is generally unimportant — even useless. For Bible students, that makes some of the more obscure individual proverbs a little difficult to parse: we are reduced to looking up the meanings of individual Hebrew words, comparing turns of phrase with other Old Testament books from the same period, or resorting to internet explanations of traditional rabbinical renderings.

Or making wild guesses. I don’t recommend that approach.

All the same, if we were to assume Solomon never groups proverbs together by subject for effect, we would be dead wrong.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

How Not to Crash and Burn (28)

One of the richer veins of wisdom that may be mined throughout Proverbs has to do with wealth: specifically, how to get it, how to keep it, and the dangers of being seen to have too much of it for other people’s tastes.

As Solomon puts it in Ecclesiastes, “Bread is made for laughter, and wine gladdens life, and money answers everything.” Wealth is not the ONLY answer to life’s difficulties, and it’s certainly not the BEST answer, but in nearly every situation (even serious illness), money offers AN answer that those without it cannot allow themselves to even consider.

Without further ado, a sampling from this week’s chapter.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

How Not to Crash and Burn (27)

We are 27 posts into this series, and I should point out (a bit late, perhaps) that this is not going to be my attempt at a commentary on Proverbs. It’s quite a bit longer than I planned or expected, sure, but nothing remotely approaching comprehensive in scope. There are just way too many bits of sound advice in this book to touch on even a tenth of them. Most must await your own consideration and meditation to reveal their wisdom and impact your life.

The best I can hope to do here is offer a few thoughts and bits of research that seasoned readers of the Old Testament may not yet have encountered, and to offer the occasional incentive for younger Christians to make Proverbs part of their regular Bible reading regimen.

And of course I can tell you which verses jump out at me. Your mileage will surely vary.