Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Proverbs (2b) of slogans, speeding and smashes

In what's turning out to be a very Proverb-y week, I realised after re-reading Monday's post that I might have made it sound like I don't think God's word is always true. Of course it is!

I wrote, "Proverbs aren't true in any and every situation." Yes, that's right, and you'll find a statement like this in most books and articles on Proverbs - but proverbs are true descriptions of what life generally looks like, which is exactly what they are meant to be.*

How about the proverb "A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son grief to his mother" (10:1)? Well, yes, most parents rejoice in wise children, but not all. Proverbs tell us how things usually work in God's well-ordered world; but in a world disordered by sin, things don't always work out this way.

A woman in my Bible study put it this way (I think she was quoting David Walter): "Proverbs are the TAC ads of the Bible". TAC ads, for those outside Victoria, are advertisements from the Transport Accident Commission, which often show, quite gruesomely, the results of drink driving or speeding.

Here's a TAC "proverb": Don't fool yourself, speed kills. Slogans like this are true as general statements, but they're not true in every specific situation. Speeding will often lead to accidents, but not always. Pick a chapter of proverbs at random, and you'll find lots of similar statements, like "Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labour" (Prov 12:24).

You could also say, "Proverbs aren't applicable to any and every situation." One proverb tells us that money is a great blessing, another that it can lead our hearts away from God (10:22, 30:7-8). One proverb advises us to give freely, and another to save our money carefully (Prov 11:24, 21:20). Wisdom is the art of knowing which you need to hear, and which to apply when.

Proverbs are God's true word showing us how to live wisely in God's good world. The consequences Proverbs outlines won't always happen: the righteous aren't always rewarded in this world, and the foolish aren't always punished. But a life lived wisely in God's service will generally bring blessing in this world, and will certainly bring glory to God now, and blessing in eternity.

* See, for example, the excellent article On Answering a Fool by Tim Chester.

image is from stock.xchng

1 comment:

mattnbec said...

TAC analogy is really helpful, Jean. Thanks for passing it on.