Three thousand year old wisdom from the wisest and wealthiest king who ever lived. I have decided to come and seek the advice of Solomon as written down to be able to let his son Rehoboam know what his father’s advice was, should Solomon not live long enough to share this wisdom face to face. Some see this text as the “Word of God”, I see it as wisdom that has stood the test of time. I am here to learn from this wisdom so I can run my business and life successfully.
I am not writing a commentary on the Book of Proverbs, although at first glance it may seem that way. I am sharing my impressions and insights as I read through these verses of ancient text. I am not looking at the original Hebrew meaning, or what scholars and commentaries have to say about these words. I am merely shining my own light on what I am reading, I intend to be a unique prism who encourages others to read these words for themselves.
In a dualistic universe where there has to be and up for there to be a down, a top for there to be a bottom, a right for there to be a left, and inside for there to be an outside; there has to be a right for their to be a wrong, righteousness for there to be evil. Both sides of the equation must exist, but as all things in existence those who don’t want to transcend this dualism challenge us to choose sides. If you put me in a corner and make me decide which to do, I will choose to be righteous.
However, it is also true to say that that which I consider righteous, you may consider evil; our own perspective has a lot to do with the way we believe and act. Your truth and mine may differ, and therefore I am concerned about the implications of “the righteous will live and those pursuing evil will die” unless the righteousness spoken of here is defined by the one whose life is at stake. Our own conscience would be the only fair arbitrator on this conundrum in my view.
Then we have to consider where our conscience originates, what makes us certain that something is righteous or evil? Is there an innate sense of right and wrong, moral and immoral; or is it that our conscience has been molded by those who were in authority in our younger lives and those we listen to today? If it is innate in all human beings then deep down we “know” which is the right path to travel to live, and which will lead to death.
If conscience is something that is a learned response then I understand verse nineteen to be saying behave the way that you believe to be right in your heart and you will live; if your perspective changes then so should your behaviour. Maybe Solomon is alluding to external forces not connected to you directly taking the lives of evil men and women. It seems strange in light of this scripture that we have a societal impression that “only the good die young!”
I don’t know if as I am writing this I am in combatative mood, because I have for a number of my articles been very accepting of what is being said in the text since my upset with the misogyny displayed in Chapter 7, again I find myself at odds with what I am reading here. I have already promised you, dear reader, that I would be open and honest with you. These are not sugar coated, towing the party line (whatever that might be) observations and impressions!
So why am I disturbed by what I am reading here? I see danger in the words of Solomon, as with verse nineteen the perception of what is perverse and what is blameless must be questioned. The implication so far, is that the reader knows which is which; but now the perspective seems to have shifted to that of the LORD. In another part of the scriptures it is suggested that “the mind of the LORD is not easily known” (See Romans 11 verses 33 and 34)
If we are being instructed to be blameless in our actions from the perspective of the LORD we are on a hiding to nothing. These words leave me cold, they are a truism disguised as a wisdom. I don’t want my life to be one that the LORD finds abominable and yet I don’t feel that this helps me to behave in the way that will be acceptable, unless I end up subscribing to the full teachings of a religion which is man-made. Men have the tendency to get things wrong, I know I’m a man!
I think it is Lao Tzu that says “You will not be punished for your anger, but by your anger!” I do not subscribe to the Old Testament view that God is an angry dictator type being and for this reason I don’t like the vengeful God that is being alluded to here in verse twenty-one . I will admit to liking the idea that evil men will not go unpunished, and that the righteous will be delivered; until I consider my own lack of blamelessness and righteousness in my dealings with others.
I do not want to live in fear all the days of my life that because of something I did years ago that is coming to pay me back evil for evil, despite my journey having brought me to a place where I would not do such a thing today. The kind of god being described here is not the one I want to follow and yet I will remain here looking to glean what wisdom I can because I still believe that Solomon was the wisest and wealthiest man who ever lived.
Oh dear! Back to the misogyny again! I’m having a difficult time here dear reader, I can’;t see how this is going to help my business, the rantings and ravings of a man who really doesn’t seem to like women. It would have been easier to say “Eh lad, our Rehoboam, listen up to thy father – get yerself discretion. It’ll be reet good for helping ya get on wi folks!” Discretion is advised King Solomon when speaking to me about god’s most beautiful creation.
I am so glad to have come to the end of this article. I suppose if we take onboard what is being said here, we are being given a clue as to who the righteous are. Those whose desires end in something good each time, but the King just can’t leave it there in his poetic dualistic balancing statements. He has to tell us that wrath is to be expected by the wicked, it’s just par for the course chaps. Being bad lads and such ain’t going to help you one bit in the long run.
I apologise if I have offended you, but before you accept my apology and keep your sensitivities unchallenged, please ask yourself if you really want to subscribe to the belief in an angry god whose lack of forgiveness for the bad guy doesn’t seem to mirror the teachings of other parts of the scripture. If you are certain that your discernment of what is right and wrong in god’s eyes is correct, then spare a thought for the humble who like me aren’t so sure.
Love and light to you from Andrew <3
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