Proverbs 16-18

Chapter 16

On and on it goes. I’ll just pick out a few highlights. V 3 is familiar – frequently quoted. V 10-15 seem to establish the divine right of kings that I learned about way back in junior high social studies. It makes more sense now that I see the context – absolute power is not generally viewed positively today. Everyone knows v 18 – but usually we hear it abridged to ‘pride goeth before a fall’. Read v 26 in different translations and the sense changes. In the KJV and the NIV it sounds like it means that people who work for themselves will work harder because personal benefit provides an incentive – and that might be true. But the NLT makes it sounds like masters should deprive their slaves of food to make them work harder.

Chapter 17

There’s nothing horrible in this one, and some nice truisms. How about v 14: “Starting a quarrel is like opening a floodgate, so stop before a dispute breaks out.” Or v 6: “Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged.” But v 16 “It is senseless to pay to educate a fool, since he has no heart for learning” disturbs me. It’s kind of a harsh attitude toward those with learning disabilities, isn’t it? There have been several references in previous chapters to ‘fools’, but this strikes me as the most insulting yet. And there are more references like it in v 25 and 28.

proverb 18Chapter 18

Some nice words of wisdom in here, too. The good stuff: v 13: “Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.” and v 19: “An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city.” But then look at v 6 – advocating beating someone who mouths off. And how about v 18 – who today would recommend a coin toss to solve a dispute?

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