Chapter 31. The Book of Proverbs concludes with another "inspired utterance" Divine Words. We end the book the way we start: "Listen, my son..."
Chapter 31 includes an epilogue: "The Wife of Noble Character." When I read these lines, I issued an utterance of a different kind... "Son of a Biscuit."
Paraphrased, extrapolated, and truncated, I submit my interpretation of this Epilogue:
- The Wife of Noble Character is the greatest asset to the life of a man.
- When a husband is full of confidence in his spouse he will lack nothing.
- The wife of noble character will never bring harm to the family.
- She contributes to the family whenever necessary or possible.
- She provides and cares for the needs of the family.
- She contributes her efforts and wealth to the family legacy.
- She works hard.
- She makes fair and profitable deals.
- She knows the tools and techniques to manage the home.
- She is generous.
- She makes her family warm and comfortable.
- Her husband is respected and encourages to lead others.
- She plans for the future.
- She exhibits wisdom and faithfulness.
- She keeps her family focused and disciplined.
- Her children learn from her Nobility.
- She has charm and beauty. But her behavior is beyond reproach.
- The Wise man will seek for and subsequently honor a Wife of Noble Character.
King Solomon, the Richest Man to Ever Live. King Solomon lived the majority of his life following the principles we have discussed in these past articles. He did not, however, finish well. At the end of his life he abandoned God, dismissed many of the principles of Wisdom. He pursued base and wicked pleasures, abandoned discipline, and acted Foolishly. A year after his death, the kingdom of Israel was divided and fell.
Chapter 30 contains a brilliant synopsis of all of the the Book of Proverbs. This "inspired utterance" is divided into several sections. It is not a stretch of the mind to identify the sections of this text as analogous to the stages of growth or Wisdom in an individual.
The first section contains the acknowledgement of God as a higher power. Omnipotent and Omnipresent.
Acknowledges a commitment to the word of God.
Asking God for help in all things: Specifically, Growth and Wisdom.
Acknowledges the wicked and strengthens our ability to identify the words and actions of wicked men.
The Wisdom of satisfaction. Although we should continue to grow and learn, we should never search for the "short-cut" or easy road to where we are going.
The Wise acknowledge what we do not understand. We are free to marvel at our Amazing and Wonderful World.
The Wickedness of adultery: The Wise understand the importance of maintaining and strong and nurturing home.
The Wise will find wisdom in the small things. We are to look closely to find the characteristics from which we can learn in the seemingly insignificant things.
The Wise Recognize the greatness in others and the expression of humility of self.
As we approach greatness our thoughts and actions become focused on others and no longer focused on ourselves. As our humility increases so does our recognition of Wisdom in all things.
Chapter 31 Tomorrow.
Chapter 29 - Leadership and Wisdom.
"A fool vents all of his feelings
but a Wise man holds them back."
The epitome of foolishness is thinking that everyone else is interested in his feelings and opinions. The Fool feels they have not only the right, but also the obligation to inflict his opinions on others.
The Wise man know that there are appropriate times and appropriate places to share opinions and feelings. This time and place is not Public and is not on social media. There is a fitting season for venting frustrations and feelings. Discretion must be used.
"If a ruler listens to lies all his servants become wicked."
All leaders will inevitably have those who want to use the power of the leader for his or her personal gain. They will use deceit and dishonesty for their on advancement. Leaders must set high standards and expectations for behavior. If dishonesty is allowed to exist in an organization, the organization will become corrupt. An organization is doomed to failure when corruption is allowed to take hold.
In Chapter 28, Solomon outlines the Blessings of Wisdom and the dangers of laziness.
Solomon tells us, the Wise are Wealthy and enjoy tangible riches and resources in plenty. Often the wise will be flush with wealth yet live and behave modestly. Those with wealth but not wisdom will appear to enjoy a lavish lifestyle...But it is often short lasting.
"Those who work their land will have abundance of food.
But those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty."
The Wise are industrious and steadfast in their endeavors. Those who remain disciplined and dedicated to the objective will find Wisdom and Abundance. Those who pursue fantasies are constantly searching for the easy of fast route to prosperity.
Those who invest their efforts in the pursuit of the magic bean often find their fill of misery or poverty. Those who are lazy or without industry exist as a plight on society. These individuals are full of excuses and blame for others. The Wise man is disciplined in the implementation of his plan for achievement.
"A goal without a plan is just a wish" - Antone de Saint Exupery
The Wise will not let whishes determine their success of achievement.
Down with the Fools and the Sluggards.
Chapter 26 discusses the consequences of being a Fool or a Sluggard... Neither are good and the Wise man will keep a distance from men displaying either characteristic. The chapter describes the negative consequences for those who associate with Fools and Sluggards.
Fools are those who value speaking over listening. The Foolish do not have plans or goals...they move in random directions and seldom show forward progress. Often the Foolish will be motivated by the meritless words of other Fools. The Fool may not have sense enough to identify what is right from what is wrong.
The Sluggard is one who is simply unwilling to do what is right. The Sluggard will take the "easy path" which often leads to long-term destruction. The Sluggard is the epitome of the undisciplined. These vile characters will expect other to carry their load without remorse or reservation.
The Fool can Learn. The Sluggard can crank it up...No one is beyond hope, Everyone can move forwards and exhibit growth. Often the progress is slow, Sometimes the progress is painful...But progress is progress and it is always worth the cost. Small improvements every day add up to major changes.
There must be a Plan. There needs to be a roadmap or a direction. Movement without a direction is always inefficient, Often ineffective, and sometimes even detrimental. The Wise have a plan and direction for growth.
Chapter 27 Tomorrow.
The Proverb Project - Chapter 25.
Chapter 25 includes the Proverbs of Solomon as compiled by King Hezekiah. Hezekiah is considered to have been a great leader and reformer of Judah. Hezekiah led his people nearly 300 years after the rule of Solomon. It can be inferred by the importance Hezekiah put on these Proverbs that Chapter 25 is of special interest to leaders and reformers.
Interesting: In Chapter 25 we find two references to men eating too much Honey. Clearly this is a reference to overindulgence. Overindulgence is a sign of weakness in a leader and Wise men exhibit discipline in all things...even good things.
"Whoever has no rule over his own spirit
is like a city broken down without walls."
The Wise exhibit discipline and self-control in all things. Those who have no rule over his own spirit do not exhibit self-control. Those without discipline cannot mitigate the flow of goodness and evil in and out of their environment. Those who exhibit strength in self-control have the discipline to remain focused on growth and wisdom. The discipline of a Wise man permits goodness to permeate himself and those he leads and loves. Positivity of spirit is a result of the influx of energy allowed by those who exhibit self-control.
A city without walls is like a man with no self-control. There is no barrier, no security, no protection. There is no line of defense from those with a heart of darkness or a mind of foolishness. Without walls a city is vulnerable to any attack. A City without walls will soon find ruin and be reduced to ash. With destruction comes the opportunity for rebuilding. From the rubble, a city can be restored to its original magnificence. Often, a city that has been destroyed will return stronger and better than ever. Rebuilding requires discipline, self-control, and the love of those who see the greatness yet to come.
Chapter 24 concludes the Wise saying of Solomon.
Verse 10 "If we falter in the time of trouble. How small our strength."
- When the going gets tough, the tough get going... We rise to meet all challenges, we right the wrongs, and we fight the Lions. The Wise look for the opportunity in adversity. Those without strength will shirk from trouble.
"Do not fret because of evildoers or be envious of the Wicked.
For the Evildoer has no future hope and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out."
As we rise in greatness. As we exhibit the strength to do what is right. As we grow in wisdom. The wicked will rise in attempt to deter our growth and our good works. These evildoers spread vile and hateful misinformation intended to serve as a distraction to our mission and progress. The Wise do not permit this distraction. The Wise ignore the "noise" of the wicked and remain steadfast and upright. The spark of the base creatures intent on the demise of the Wise will soon lose its Luster and burn itself out before imploding in baseness and anger.
The Wise remain focused on the objective, ignoring the evildoers as they would dismiss insects or vermin. The Wise have a threshold of tolerance. The wicked are ignored and dismissed until their atrocities become a significant detriment to the mission of the organization. When a Wise man's threshold for ignorance becomes breached, the evildoer becomes a Lion. We Fight Lions. We ignore the ignorant.
Chapter 25 Tomorrow.
Chapter 23 is a continuation of Solomon's 30 "Do Not" sayings for the Wise. These chapters outline pitfalls that are to be avoided by Wise men. We could likely dedicate another 30 days to these subchapters...this project is to be reserved for another time.
Saying #10 in three versions:
"Do not speak to fools, for they will scorn you prudent words"
"Do Not waste your words on the fool. He will despise the wisdom of your words."
"Do not speak in the hearing of a fool. For he will despise the wisdom of your words."
Time and energy are finite resources. The Wise man does not spend the resources necessary to speak with the fools. When teaching or training Fools, the best case scenario is slow progress. More often, the Wise meet opposition and hostility with training a Fool. There are instances where Fools must be trained. In those occasions, the Wise will proceed deliberately and with great discipline. Discussions with fools must be intentional and strategic. "Great spirits have always encountered Violent Opposition from Mediocre Minds" - Albert Einstein.
Fools are threatened by wisdom. When fools feel threatened, they lash out. Unfortunately, in this age of social media and digital communication, every fool has a magnified voice. For most of recorded history, such a platform was accompanied by a responsibility of discretion. Such discretion is often lacking in those who pander to the constituency of fools. The Wise realize there is little to gain through the engagement of fools. Often the Wise remain silent rather than engage the yammering horde. In the absence of leadership or Wisdom, people will listen to anyone who speaks up...The challenge to the Wise is present cogent information without engaging the fools.
Iron Sharpens Iron. The Wise hone the skills of the wise. Often, Wisdom (and wealth) is passed amongst the society of the Wise. Wisdom is reserved for the select few who possess the Discipline and fortitude necessary to receive said wisdom. The Fool is certainly welcome to this table...Discretion, discipline, and a willingness to learn is the toll one must pay for a seat.
If we are the sum of the five people with whom we spend the most time. I choose to limit my exposure to fools. My resources and finite. I must invest them wisely.
Chapter 24 Tomorrow.
Chapter 22 Verse 13:
"The Sluggard says: "There is a Lion Outside! I'll be killed in the public square"
The Lazy man will always find an excuse to shirt his duty. To the sluggard, there is always a "lion" or another insurmountable obstacle. The Lion becomes someone else's responsibility to remove. Where the sluggard sees an obstacle, the Wise and Industrious sees an opportunity. We do not live in fear of the Lion. We embrace the struggle and invite the challenge. The Opportunity to slay a Lion is not common. Men of Wisdom and Industry are not common either.
Without question, doing battle with Lions may lead to failure. Is the Glory not worth the risk? Bobby Kennedy told us "Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly." Challenging the lion is Always worth the battle.
As to the Sluggards...They best stay inside and leave the Lions to those worthy of the challenge.
The Proverbs Project
For the next 30 days, I intend to read and reflect on one chapter in the book of Proverbs.