January 3 2014: Proverbs 3
Third day. Third chapter. Are you reading along? To fill you in on the overall concept that I’m using in Proverbs this year, we as a family are making our own individual copies of Proverbs. None of us are quite up to the task of translating ourselves, so we are just rewriting English—I think all of us are doing New American Standard Bible, but one or two of the kids may be doing something else.
We’re copying them into one of these: Journible for Proverbs. This handy hardcover has lines marked off for making a personal copy of the Scripture, and the facing page has space for thoughts. Here’s a sample link which shows how it works in Philippians, and here’s Ann Hibbard’s review of Journible for Acts.
Organizationally, we’re copying the verses in this order: day of the week sets the chapter, month sets the verse. So, today, 1-3, we copied all the verses in chapter 3 that end in 1. That makes it manageable for the slower writers, and gives time to write neatly. Yes, you have to use American dates for this.
Now, today’s focus verse from Proverbs is Proverbs 3:31. Take a read at that: Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways. (NASU).
What is a man of violence?
First, a man of violence is enviable. That means he’s gotten stuff, power, or position that you want. Or that I want. And we want to take that stuff, power, or position away from him. How do we know that? Because there’s no reason to say don’t envy someone who has nothing—no one envies the poor.
Second, a man of violence is, well, violent. That is, he has concerned himself with the acquisition without considering the methods to get there. Stomping on people, whether by brute force or other means, to attain is being violent.
Third, a man of violence is imitable. You can be like him. It is tempting, and often suggested, that you should be like him.
You must choose not to. Whatever has been attained by violence is poison and not worth retaining.
Now, a brief word here about responsible violence: there is violence born out of malevolence and violence born out of defense. One should not count the beaches of Normandy as ill-gotten since it took violence to wrest them from Hitler. However, one should count Hitler’s possession of them as violence—Hitler is a man of violence, but in the World War II context, Churchill was not.
This verse speaks to the idea of pursuing personal gain through violence, because that’s how someone else did it. Doing so departs from wisdom and enters into a feedback loop that will destroy all it touches. Why? Because violence becomes your method, and then it is violence that returns to you.
Do not copy the violence, but instead choose to follow the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6-7). It’s the way. Not the better way—the only way that lasts.