It’s been a while since I dug in and got back into my Bible reading, but I’m glad to be back at it. I know this project is a little daunting sometimes and not everything has to do with or mentions women specifically, so it may seem that reading and blogging through even those portions that don’t is unnecessary but sometimes there is something to even being missed or forgotten about as a gender. Regardless, I’m just glad to be back at it and hope to get through again without falling off the wagon, as the saying goes. I had only done one post on this book, the book of wisdom, which is linked here.
This chapter has two sets of wisdom in it. The first is titled Trust in the Lord with all your heart. I absolutely love this one. While it uses a lot of the terminology that gets thrown around in small snippets to try to make people believe that this is some sort of prosperity gospel but having the full context and the full text of this one actually says something else. It’s saying that doing things the way that God tells you, that listening to him, means that you’re doing it right and doing it right will cause prosperity.
I feel like that’s true of so many people who give us good wisdom as well. So it’s not implicitly that God will bless you with prosperity for following what he says but the act of following what he says causes prosperity. Like the way experience at any endeavor makes you more successful at it than you were when you didn’t have experience yet. Or that having good mentors and coaches help you do things the right and more fruitful way from the beginning. So I really love this one.
The next one is titled Blessed is the One Who Finds Wisdom, and I don’t like it much. It begins by again anthropomorphizing Wisdom. Again Wisdom is female, which is pretty cool, but I feel like it detracts from God being the source of the wisdom that is to be followed, especially when it goes on about how He was using wisdom when He “founded the earth”. Then it ends with a few lines that do blur the line between taking the wisdom of God makes us prosper and the prosperity gospel itself. But there is this section that I adored:
28Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again,
tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you.
29Do not plan evil against your neighbor,
who dwells trustingly beside you.
30Do not contend with a man for no reason,
when he has done you no harm.
31Do not envy a man of violence
and do not choose any of his ways,
I feel like all of those are some pretty solid advice.
This chapter has only one proverb in it, titled A Father’s Wise Instruction. It mostly tells the son to not get into doing bad/evil/wicked things. It warns him of what happens and who the people are that do those things. Strangely, it doesn’t mention God once. It’s just one father telling his son the worldly reasons to not get into relationships with people who are bad/evil/wicked. It does also anthropomorphize wisdom again a bit, but only in that sticking to the wisdom that you’ve received sets you on the right course and steering away from it messes you up and has the potential completely mess up your life.
Titled Warning Against Adultery, the wisdom given in this chapter does not just blame the woman. I really appreciated this. Yes, it says that “her speech is smoother than oil” and that the “lips of a forbidden woman drip honey” and even more, but hear me out. These things are true. You can hear it from people and see this same sentiment expressed in countless modern movies. Women who are not the wife of the would-be adulterer are enticing for many reasons. But he still maintains his free will and she is not necessarily trying to entice him. Sometimes a beautiful and wonderful woman happens to cross paths with a married man who finds her attractive, whether she wants him to be attracted to her or not. This proverb does not go out of its way to make it sound like any given woman is specifically being wicked and attempting to seduce these men.
Then there’s also this part:
4but in the end she is bitter as wormwood,
sharp as a two-edged sword.
5Her feet go down to death;
her steps follow the path toc Sheol;
6she does not ponder the path of life;
her ways wander, and she does not know it.
It’s so true. Of the women that I know who have slept with married men, it’s so true. In the end, they are either “rewarded” with a man who has no problems lying to his wife and cheating on her or she is cast aside for yet another woman or the original wife and is depressed afterward anyway. Either way, the women I’ve known didn’t realize that they were going down a road they were going to regret. They just thought this guy was too great to pass up on and paid a steep price for that lack of their own wisdom. I’m sure there are exceptions and women living it up on someone else’s husband, but I’ve never met them.
Then it presents a fairly decent case to men about why it’s better to keep it in your pants when not with your own wife. Anything that you do for someone that is not your wife is basically wasted. You have not invested in your own life.
I believe this would likely hold true when gender bent.
The first of two proverbs in this chapter is titled Practical Warnings but talks entirely about not being lazy and working yourself to death to avoid poverty for the first fifteen verses before making a slight segue into things “the Lord hates” or are an “abomination to him”. Honestly, I have to agree that they are terrible things:
17haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
18a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
19a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers.
Of course, I prefer to think of “among brothers” as more of a style choice and that the full meaning is “between people”. Several translations also use various versions “between family members”.
The next one is Warnings Against Adultery. I know we just covered this subject in the last chapter but it appears yet again. I appreciate the inclusion here of “forsake not your mother’s teaching” in the first verse. While this one does use some shaming words against the woman involved, and specifically makes her out to be the married one in this case, the term to qualify her varies again through translations. The point does come across though that it remains a man’s choice as to whether he carries out the act of adultery. It’s an important distinction because I’ve seen a lot of comments that say the Bible consistently puts the blame on the woman as if it is always her fault alone. This we know to be problematic because it relieves the man of blame and makes it so that his level of attraction or arousal is implicitly her fault and sets the stage for blaming women for their own rape.
This is not the case in this proverb, as it wasn’t in the last one. This is specifically cautioning men against touching any woman, even one who does want it, if the act would then be adultery. It alleviates blame from no one. It also goes on to specify the social consequences of sleeping with other people’s wives. I appreciate that it essentially keeps God and His punishment out of the situation because God is not the only person you sin against when you commit adultery. Some like to make it sound it shouldn’t matter because it’s just sex but there is a monumental breakdown of trust and intimacy that shouldn’t be ignored or sidelined. Again, I believe this one maintains it’s truth when gender bent.