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January 2014: Proverbs 26 by Doug

Going on into Proverbs 26, we are in that portion of the book of Proverbs that feels like a hodge-podge. There are verses about speech, fools, wine, slackers, and dozens of other subjects just tossed together. This is why some people see Proverbs as a disparate collection of sayings.






I would suggest a different viewpoint. Proverbs is written to a holistic society. There is little separation between work and worship; faith and family; discipleship and learning. All of these run together or overlap. What good would a subject segregated book of Proverbs be in that case? You would find yourself flipping between the section on fools and the section on wine—or would those go together, but slackers go elsewhere?





Instead, Solomon presents us with life as we know it: everything connects. Your work life impacts your worship of God—and vice versa. Your home life affects your business which affects your romantic life which impacts your use of alcohol. The Proverbs look like a hodge-podge partially because life is a hodge-podge. The Proverbs speak to life, life lived in worshipful fear of God.





And they’re not meant to be read only individually, but the idea is that you would systematically read the whole of them, learning and applying and rereading as you go.





With that in mind, let us pull one out for the day. Proverbs 26:1 stands forward in my mind from today’s reading. One ought not honor a fool, anymore than one hopes for snow in summer or wants rain in harvest. Now, before I lived in agricultural territory, I used to hope for snow in summer! Even though I thought it impossible, I wanted it.





Which is how I did understand that phrasing. Honor for fools was, basically, impossible. Or something that only happened far off in the mountains. It was a foreign concept.





This is not the case. This verse has nothing to do with the impossibility of honor for a fool—or nearly nothing. Remember the primary audience of Proverbs: Solomon’s sons, who would be able to honor anybody they chose.





The issue here is one of helpfulness and appropriateness. I can assure: there is no farmer who wants the cold necessary for snow while rice is sprouting or corn is tasseling. It would be a disaster. An absolute agricultural disaster.





So is the case of honoring fools. At best, it can be an inconvenience: rain in harvest starts as an inconvenience, and then can destroy a harvest because it rots in the fields. More likely, it is like snow in summer: it may seem like a good thing, but if you know what is going on, you see that destruction can be the only outcome.





Be careful who you honor. Be wary of honoring fools, whether it be with your vote, your money, or your following. Because in the end, after the refreshing blast of cold, when the barns are empty, you will see what became of it. The fool will move on, and leave the rest of us starving.

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