Archive for May 15th, 2019

Proverbs 29:9-12

In Proverbs 29:9-12 Solomon begins by contrasting the difference between wisdom and being a fool. Solomon considered some kind of argument or dispute between the wise and the foolish, likely set in a court of law. Since the two have different foundations and principles for living, it isn’t a surprise that they would contend with each other. “If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.” One major difference is the amount of noise generated. When two such different people are at odds with one another, there will be no peace. The fool will respond with either anger or mocking, but neither will lead to peace. This should teach the wise man to be cautious about arguing with a fool.

Next he contrasts the bloodthirsty man with one who is blameless. Another ‘opposite ends of the spectrum’ kind of comparison. There is a fundamental opposition between the bloodthirsty and the blameless. Those given to violence and brutality (the bloodthirsty) simply hate the blameless, both because the life and message of the blameless convicts the bloodthirsty and because the bloodthirsty hate all the blameless stand for. “Bloodthirsty men hate one who is blameless and seek the life of the upright.” The bloodthirsty enjoy seeing the pillage of destruction in the lives of others.  They always want to do damage and cause pain.

Back to the discussion of a fool, Solomon reminds us that a fool lets out all their feelings for the world to see. It is the nature of a fool to think that everyone is interested in all his feelings and that he has some obligation to share all his feelings with everyone around him. This is a foolish offense to self-respect, self-restraint, and courtesy towards others.” A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.” The wise man knows that there is a time and place to vent one’s feelings. It is not wise to act like the fool and expose all his feelings. There may be a time and place to do that, but wisdom means understanding that who and when one shares is equally as important as what one shares.

Solomon then tackles the integrity of truth telling, particularly as it relates to those who are in power. Anyone in authority will have many who want to use his or her power and position for their own advancement. Some of those may use lies to influence, frighten, manipulate, or simply deceive that ruler. The wise ruler pays no attention to lies. They surround themselves with perceptive people that can spot those who are trying to manipulate. “If a ruler listens to falsehood, all his officials will be wicked.” When the servants see that the ruler can be influenced by lies, it encourages them to lie. Deception is rewarded and telling the truth is discouraged. The atmosphere around that ruler and his servants becomes poisonous and incompetent. Deceit becomes the norm and integrity and character go out the window.

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