This set begins the 30 pieces of advice that are collected as the “Words of the Wise”. To be fair, they really are pretty good in a general way. They’re good advice for men or women, but as most of this advice reads, it’s mostly directed at men. We’ll cover the mentions of women and some other things I find interesting here and there. It begins where the “Proverbs of Solomon” and continue through chapter 24. I’m not sure why they would separate the sets between chapters, it doesn’t make any sense to me.
Proverbs 22 continued
First of all, there’s a part in the introduction of this set that says keeping these words “will be pleasant if you keep them within you”. It sounds weird at first, but I got it when I started to get into them. As mentioned above and with other sets of proverbs, they are pretty reasonable things to abide by. They make good sense and really may keep things pleasant between you and those around you, like not robbing the poor. That’s a pretty solid teaching. Then there’s not moving the ancient landmarks, that could make for some good world politics….
As this good advice continues, I came upon verse 4
4Do not toil to acquire wealth;
be discerning enough to desist.
Don’t be a workaholic. Don’t just live to make money. While it’s hard in this country to try to tell people that there is more to life than money and the acquisition of things, I appreciate that this is here more than ever. We always seem to want more and there are always advertisements telling us that life will be perfect once we have this thing. We have to make more money to get it because that thing is always more and more expensive. But there’s more to life than all of that and we need to strive to be mindful of that. The proverb in the next verse even goes on to say that it will “sprout wings” as soon as you have it and leave you.
The insistence for moderation comes again later:
Just like not working too much, we shouldn’t eat too much or drink too much. These are also big problems in the US.
It goes straight from not consuming too much and into the treatment of your parents. Mothers are specifically mentioned to “not despise your mother when she is old” and later that she’ll “be glad” and “rejoice” when you are wise and/or righteous.
In verses 27 and 28 the next proverb mentions prostitutes and adulteresses as people who increase “the traitors among mankind”. While not a particularly gracious thing to say of women, I have to note that it doesn’t say that of all women. In fact, most of the time that the proverbs have been admonishing certain kinds of women, they have been using specific terms for women with certain habits or professions. None of these are meant to be an admonishment of all women nor do they make it seem like all women are prone to such behaviors. They similarly address men who have dishonest or destructive behaviors. They do not make it sound like all men or women are prone to any type of behavior, just to steer clear of those who might bring you down and/or get you in trouble with the laws of God or man.
I’m not sure if the opening verse to this chapter is directed at men or women…
It was probably meant for men, like the others, but good advice for women on a whole different level.
The 30 wise words end in verse 22 but then there’s a header at the beginning of verse 23 that is “More sayings of the wise”. I’m not really sure why they’re separated from the first 30 and didn’t see a reason why.
The section opens with a great proverb on encouraging bad behavior. If you do so, you’ll “be cursed by peoples, abhorred by nations”. On the other hand, better things will come if you try to correct them.