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February 2014: Proverbs 11 by Doug

My son has achieved his first two ranks with the Cub Scouts. He went from being a “Cub Scout” to being a “Wolf Cub Scout” last night, pinning on his Bobcat and Wolf badges. I am, as his father, very proud of him. I earned those badges when I was a young lad. I imagine that his PopPop, whose Wolf Cub Scout book I have, is also proud of him. (It was late when we got home, so we didn’t get to call yet.)

Yet when we come to Proverbs 11:2, we see pride as a bad thing. After all, pride is followed by dishonor. Humility is where one finds wisdom.

I think this is another case where English flattens Hebrew words. We have to read, and reread, the text of Scripture with an understanding that the original language has words with a range of meaning, and that our English translations use words with a range of meaning. The English word used to translate a Hebrew word had the closest overlap in range of meaning at the time of translation, from available English words.

In this case, “pride” is used for a Hebrew word that ranges into insolence, self-absorption, presumptuousness. In short, it’s the bad end of “pride”’s range of meaning. We tend to see pride used in translation because that is how the King James translated it, we like our habits, and we like to keep the Proverbs short.

So there is dangerous, destructive pride. It is the kind of pride that refuses guidance, that ignores wisdom, and defies God. It can be found in the celebrity and the anti-celebrity. You know the anti-celebrity, right? It’s that person who is focused on not being “famous” to the point of pridefully pointing all the ways they are better than famous people.

The humble, though, have wisdom. The humble are not weak. Instead, the humble know that there is more to life than just them. The truly humble recognize God as the most important, the source of life, and the source of wisdom. As such, the humble often know much more than the wide world expects them to know.

This is why we must actively seek wisdom. Wisdom is available and clear, but does not go about bragging. We need to learn how to find those who have that humility about themselves which covers a power and wisdom in life.


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