Work in Proverbs

Work is a gift from God to give meaning to our lives. Pity the man or woman who doesn’t do any, regardless of how rich or poor. 

Our family was at the marina yesterday morning getting our sailboat ready to go into the water for the sailing season. Decks needed to be scrubbed, the cabin needed to be cleaned, rigging needed to be checked, and the tires on the trailer, having gone flat during our unusually cold winter, needed to be repaired and changed. It was a family affair, with everyone pitching in to do what they could even when they didn’t want to; like when two of my daughters cleaned the anchor locker. Enjoying the cool breeze and warm sunshine while we worked, another boater walked over and asked how I got my whole family to help with the boat; he had to do all of his boat work alone. It is a common sentiment; we often see whole families enjoying their boats but generally see only adults, usually men, working on them.

In 1978 the movie “Thank God it’s Friday” lauded the last day of the work week and in 1981 the band Loverboy sang “Everybody’s working for the weekend”. More recent and more sinister, nearly 150 police officers and firefighters in New York City were arrested for faking post-traumatic stress disorder related to the 9/11/2001 terrorist attack so that they could get government benefits and get out of work. Thus some of the most admired people in the country used one of the most horrific events in our history to cheat taxpayers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars each. God made man to work, and yet so many want to avoid it.

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Wisdom in Proverbs

Wisdom is truly better than gold, so why don’t we want it as much?

If there is one concept which is associated with the book of Proverbs, it is wisdom. In fact Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon fall into a genre of the Bible known as the Wisdom literature. Other ancient civilizations such as Egypt also had “wisdom literature”, which generally included sayings from teachers considered wise in their cultures. Hebrew wisdom literature is contrasted with Greek wisdom literature in that the focus of the Greeks was a stronger family or society while the focus of the Hebrews was to obey God.

Our first task is to define wisdom. Dictionary.com defines wisdom as “knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight.” The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology describes wisdom using Biblical terms. In the Old Testament wisdom (חָכְמָה chokmah) connotes human skills (building – Exodus 28:3, warfare – Isaiah 10:3, or ruling – Deuteronomy 34:9) or human insight (Ecclesiastes 1:13). As such, the misuse of such wisdom is condemned (2 Samuel 20:22, Isaiah 29:14).

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