Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Proverbs 18: 1-8

Contrast the Upright and the Wicked
1He who separates himself seeks his own desire,
He quarrels against all sound wisdom.
2A fool does not delight in understanding,
But only in revealing his own mind.
3When a wicked man comes, contempt also comes,
And with dishonor comes scorn.
4The words of a man's mouth are deep waters;
The fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.
5To show partiality to the wicked is not good,
Nor to thrust aside the righteous in judgment.
6A fool's lips bring strife,
And his mouth calls for blows.
7A fool's mouth is his ruin,
And his lips are the snare of his soul.
8The words of a whisperer are like dainty morsels,
And they go down into the innermost parts of the body.

Today's Thought Question:
  1. What proverb in today's passage spoke to you and why?

ave you noticed that Solomon devotes a lot of attention to the words, mouth and lips of the wise and the foolish? It all goes back to his earlier foundation statement: "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." (Proverbs 4:23, NIV) From this spring flows everything that our hearts contain, thus our mouth, lips and words all reflect the nature of our hearts--wise or foolish.

A fool's mouth is his ruin (vs 7) and calls for blows (vs 6), and his lips bring strife (vs 6) and are the snare of his soul (vs 7). And what does verse 8 follow up with?

"The words of a whisperer are like dainty morsels, and they go down into the innermost parts of the body."

On the surface, this reads like a good thing. We've been reading how it is better to restrain from too many words or boisterous pronouncements of our minds. Dainty morsels make me think of sweet little treats. Treats you might share over tea with a good friend, in whispers....Hm....Wait a minute! That may not be such a good thing.

As I've been doing for the past few posts, I'm driven to share with you how some other translations and paraphrases present this verse.

"Rumors are dainty morsels that sink deep into one’s heart." (NLT)

Ah ha! Rumors, gossip. Today, we'd call that 'juicy' morsels, not dainty. ('Dainty' actually comes from a root that's tied in with dignity!) Though I don't find the word choice in the NLT or NASB to be quite fitting, what happens is what's important. Gossip sinks! And it sinks straight to our heart, which is just where it doesn't need to be. When are hearts are tainted by gossip and rumor, how can we possibly produce anything from our hearts that isn't messed up? Can we possibly love others as God has loved us with such evil poisoning our hearts?

"Listening to gossip is like eating cheap candy; do you really want junk like that in your belly?" (The Message)

"The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly." (KJV)

The King James choice of words is more to my liking, getting to the meat of what Solomon is saying. The "words," in the Hebrew meaning murmurings, grumblings, rebelliousness, are spoken by "talebearers." This word has such a fascinating breakdown. It comes from a word that means "to roll to pieces." I just think this describes gossip so perfectly. You start out with something, and as you roll and massage it, it starts to spread, break apart, and spin out and away to small bits. The Hebrew word for merchant also comes from this root--men that carry tales. [Cool!]

So, what starts as rebellious grumblings rolled out into bits becomes as a wound--something burned in, causing us rankling. Think a festering sore! It comes from a root word meaning dragon or serpent. Serpent!?!! Say no more!

And these festering wounds are not surface wounds. They are the deepest, innermost kind of wounds--right to the heart! The KJV uses 'belly,' and the Hebrew words go even deeper in description, suggesting womb ("as they be born," says Strong's.)

I'm feeling rather convicted. Tea, anyone? Perhaps not.


* * *

Tomorrow's Scripture Focus and Thought Question:

Proverbs 18: 9-16
  1. What proverb in today's passage spoke to you and why?

* * *

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation, specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB). I will quote other sources if used in a post.
I also use Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (with notes from the King James Version).


Carmen said...

Good observations, and some humor too! Merchants--men that carry tales? Who knew? It's easy to learn when it's this enjoyable to read!

Chatty Kelly said...

I loved your layout - although mentioning candy was a bad idea, cause I love candy. Although "cheap" candy, not so much. But I love how you picked this apart, because it did in fact sound like a good thing.

I was a little confused about what "Separates himself" (v. 1) means. Perhaps draw attention to ones self? That would fit with revealing his own mind. Sounds like someone who talks just to hear themselves, but doesn't really have anything of value to say. Hey! Stop talking about me!

Sue J. said...

HE WHO willfully separates and estranges himself [from God and man] seeks his own desire and pretext to break out against all wise and sound judgment. (Amplified Bible)

KJV uses 'separates,' too, and the Hebrew word implies breaking away, being out of joint. So, maybe not necessarily to hear themselves, but definitely not to hear those who are wise, I'm thinking.

As I'm thinking about "out of joint," when we remove ourselves from the body of Christ, that definitely puts us on the outs with God. We'll die if we don't stay connected to the body.

Sorry about the candy. I love Reese's!