Author: Bob Bailey
So much advice and it seems so random. Well, at least to the modern reader. We know that there are major themes and connections once we begin to read larger sections of Proverbs and take into account ancient cultural context. So, how do we maneuver through this list of seemingly unconnected bits of advice? It is easy to identify the positive and negative attributes and characteristics presented. No one questions that we don’t aspire to be so lazy that we can’t even feed ourselves (vs. 24), or that being a liar is a bad thing. What is at the root of what the writer is trying to say? Does he really want me to work on these individual traits? The answer may be planted a little deeper.
One can work on these characteristics individually, like being slow to anger, or being more generous, but if we miss the reason in vs. 3 that “when a man’s folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the Lord,” we also miss that recurring theme in vs. 23: “The fear of the Lord leads to life and whoever has it rests satisfied”.
How many people work on thorn bushes expecting apples? How many people seek fulfillment and find folly because they have the wrong roots in their hearts. Starting with the right roots (the fear of the Lord) helps us grow in the direction of good branches and eventually the fruit of integrity, good sense, understanding and overlooking the offense of others. When we see questionable fruit in ourselves or others, maybe we should look at our roots.