Are you wise? What is wisdom? III

Posted by tom | Apr 14, 2012

According to David A. Dorsey (Evangelical Seminary), Walter C. Kaiser suggests that a proverb is not a promise; that "a stitch in time saves nine" expresses an important truism that a wise person will incorporate into his or her life; but it is not -- nor is it intended to be -- an iron-clad promise (occasionally a stitch in time may not save nine). Dorsey asked as part of the homework:

Do you think this is true of the biblical proverbs? Briefly respond, dealing with each of the following four proverbs in your response: (1) Proverbs 10:1; (2) Proverbs 10:4; (3) Proverbs 15:1; and (4) Proverbs 22:6.

Not sure how well I answered this question. In my homework I shared that I agreed with Kaiser, but preferred Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart’s description of a proverb:

“all things being equal, there are basic attitudes and patterns of behavior that will help a person grow into responsible attitude. . . . a brief, particular expression of truth. The briefer a statement is, the less likely it is to be totally precise and universally applicable . . . phrased in a catchy way to be memorable" (How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. 3rd ed. Zondervan, 2003, 231-2).

Below are my brief explorations of Proverbs 10:1, Proverbs 10:4, Proverbs 15:1, and Proverbs 22:6, let me know if you agree/disagree with these responses AND what you have to add :)

In Proverbs 10:1, one sees the consequences of one’s behavior. When one follows the way of wisdom, joy comes to one’s parents. When one chooses the path of folly, one brings grief to one’s parents. But it is possible that there is nothing to bring joy to one’s parents, they may be fools and not find joy in their children becoming wise.

In Proverbs 10:4, we read diligence, in contrast to laziness, brings wealth. Although generally true, one may work diligently, as in Christian ministry and/or in a difficult economic context/time (e.g., present day Haiti or the United States during the Great Depression), but receive low income or even live in poverty. Furthermore a rich kid may be lazy, but find wealth increasing due to the diligence and wise investment of those who came before him/her.

In Proverbs 15:1 a gentle response, in contrast to a harsh word, receives reward. But at times and/or with particularly quarrelsome people, gentleness is not received no matter how hard one tries.

In Proverbs 22:6 the consequences of being set in the right direction when young is said to lead to proper behavior throughout one’s life. This is true in many cases, but we all know children who have been raised in a local congregation only to choose another past for the rest of their days. Furthermore, transformation/conversation can occur later in life.

Earlier posts in the series: Are you wise? What is wisdom?, Are you wise? What is wisdom? II.

In partnership with the church, Evangelical Seminary develops servant leaders for transformational ministry in a broken and complex world by nurturing rigorous minds, passionate hearts, and Christ-centered actions.

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