Author: Keino McWhinney
We are thirteen chapters into the reading of Proverbs and at this point it’s a challenge to not get lost in the seemingly endless flow of parallel sentences, the use of imagery, and the many instances of compare and contrast. The opening three verses of Proverbs 13 are a good example of the brisk pace of the book:
A wise son hears his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.
From the fruit of his mouth a man eats what is good, but the desire of the treacherous is for violence.
Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin. (Proverbs 13:1-3 ESV)
Feeling overwhelmed with all this “wisdom” it’s easy to give a cursory glance and make a general mental summary of the text to be filed away for the “future.” Often times the difficulty rests with our failure to read the text slowly. We must read slowly in an attempt to gain the right insight and to consider the questions raised by the text. Will the father’s instruction be regarded? Will I guard my lips in order to preserve life? Do I hate what is false? What is the proper time and context in which to apply these truths?
With slow reading and deep reflection we are more likely to find clarity in the words of Proverbs. For example, in the many parallels presented it is apparent that the wise and fool are allotted similar opportunities in life. The allotment itself is neutral but the classification as wise or foolish is dictated by the choices made and the resulting consequences. I pray that we might read slowly and choose wisely our path in life.