Showing posts with label Proverbs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Proverbs. Show all posts

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Mouth Almighty

Mouth almighty, that is what I’ve got,
 Mouth almighty, telling you
    what’s what.
 Mouth almighty.
 I wish I’d never opened my mouth
    almighty …

— Elvis Costello (1983)

Some years ago, I was working at a Christian summer camp.

By all evidence, it had been an excellent year — many children’s lives touched, many young people growing in knowing God, good friendships formed, spiritual growth on every side, and a safe and successful physical program.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

What Does Your Proof Text Prove? (28)

Judd is writing a letter to the editor at one of his frequently visited websites. He finds it suboptimal that despite “signaling moderate distaste” for Donald Trump, its editor would actually consider voting for the man should he run for president in the 2024 election. Judd’s counterproposal is that the Republican Party seek out a candidate who epitomizes biblical values rather than a divisive individual sporting a well-acknowledged plethora of warts and wrinkles.

By way of correction, Judd offers a familiar proverb. To his mind, the teaching of scripture should be conclusive: “When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.”

Wednesday, February 08, 2023

What Does Your Proof Text Prove? (24)

Reading the Bible regularly, repeatedly and without an agenda is a great safeguard against monomania.

Stephen G. Fowler is a medical doctor and student of psychoanalysis. I will probably have more to say about his 2017 book Probing the Mind to Free the Soul in a future post, but my interest today has more to do with his interpretation of a particular proverb than his subject matter or technical arguments.

Let’s just say his reading of the text may be more than a little influenced by his preoccupation with psychoanalysis.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Too Hot to Handle: How Do You Read It? (5)

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Tom: We’re in the middle of batting around commonly misunderstood Bible verses. Here’s another frequently-quoted line for you, IC, this one from Proverbs:

“As he thinks within himself, so he is.”

I mentioned in another post a few weeks ago that I’ve often found other people understand individual proverbs very differently from the way I understand them. This one is no exception.

Monday, February 07, 2022

Anonymous Asks (183)

“Conventional wisdom disagrees with an increasing number of Bible proverbs. Is it possible some were of their own time and do not apply to us today?”

Last week I began going through Proverbs with a fine-tooth comb in an effort to answer this question. I tried to select those sayings which seem the most foreign to our modern mindset, in order to set the current “wisdom of the world” side by side with the wisdom of God.

So far the wisdom of God is looking pretty relevant to the present day.

Monday, January 31, 2022

Anonymous Asks (182)

“Conventional wisdom disagrees with an increasing number of Bible proverbs. Is it possible some were of their own time and do not apply to us today?”

What a great question! Most of the Bible’s proverbs are over 3,000 years old, so we certainly cannot discount the possibility that applying all of them literally is borderline-unworkable. It sent me combing through Proverbs from beginning to end in search of the most controversial examples I could find. (I am leaving out Proverbs 31, since I dealt with the cultural relevance of the “excellent wife” here.)

So, let’s see about those “irrelevant” proverbs then ...

Thursday, December 09, 2021

Assumptions and Loaded Conversations

Back in 2012, NBA Commissioner David Stern caught flack for cracking an old joke in an interview with Jim Rome. Rome asked him if the NBA lottery was rigged. Stern came back with, “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?”

Of course, this immediately got him into trouble with the PC set, who took him to be making fun of the very serious issue of wife abuse. I can sympathize with their ire; but in fairness, I think it’s not what Stern was trying to say. He was actually referring to an old (admittedly somewhat tasteless) joke. I think I first read it on a bubble gum wrapper when I was a kid, and I remember seeing it in other places as well. It was one of those things that was “just around”. The joke went like this:

Question: What’s a question you cannot answer either “Yes” or “No”?

Answer: Have you stopped beating your wife yet?

Perhaps Stern and I chewed the same gum, I don’t know.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Balancing Act

“A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight.”

False balances are generally associated with weights and scales. The idea is that there is an established price quoted per pound, ounce or liter, but when it comes time to measure out the product, the merchant has rigged his scales so that the balance shown does not reflect the quantity being measured, and the purchaser ends up paying for something he is not receiving. He is being ripped off.

We may come to view being fleeced as the cost of doing business, but the Lord loathes such practices. He calls them an abomination.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

That Which Comes Naturally

“Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.”

“I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”

The first quote comes from the book of Proverbs, and we might paraphrase it this way: “Do not ever allow yourself to stop being consistently loving and trustworthy; make these qualities part of the fabric of your being.” As a father, King Solomon is challenging his sons and others who will eventually read his wise words to be people of exceptional kindness and consistency.

The second quote here is the prophet Jonah’s complaint to God, and it pretty much explains itself. But it also serves to illuminate the first quote a little bit.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Mouth Almighty

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Agnosticism and Folly

“Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”

Solomon, wisest man of his day and the greatest king of Israel — at least by the world’s standard of measurement — talks about two alternatives we all face in life, picturing them by extended metaphor as a pair of women offering invitations.

On the surface there are similarities: both women are offering food of a sort to those who are simple, naïve or untaught, just as we all are when we come into the world.

But the similarities end there.

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, 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.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

More Teaching Won’t Help

Yesterday I drew attention to what at first glance might appear to be an imbalance in the teaching of the book of Proverbs. Solomon gives many dire warnings about “women on the make” to young men, but no warnings at all to young women concerning the dangers of lustful men.

This was not because God is uninterested in maintaining the virtue of women, as we will see shortly. However, ancient Eastern societies, and especially Israel, had a culture of built-in familial and legal protections for ordinary women which made them difficult for men on the prowl to access or seduce, and this without imposing on them pillbox-style face-coverings and body bags.

And of course there was no internet in those days. Where temptation is concerned, that was far from a negative.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Discriminating Against the Adulteress

Modern readers flipping the pages of Proverbs would have to be incredibly inattentive to fail to notice that the warnings about lapsing into sexual sin are ... all directed at men.

In fact, where adultery is concerned, it could be argued that Solomon viewed women of a certain sort as cunning predators and men as their potential victims. Foolish and gullible victims, certainly. Unknowing and uncaring of the consequences of their actions, definitely. But victims all the same ... even though we know it takes two to tango, right?

Where are the parallel passages warning young Hebrew women against the prowling adulterer with lust in his eyes? Why, they are nowhere to be found.

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.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Assumptions and Loaded Conversations

The most recent version of this post is available here.

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.