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March 2014: Proverbs 10 by Doug

Today, we look at Proverbs 10. I would, of course, encourage you to read the whole chapter.

Then, focus with me on Proverbs 10:23. This little couplet is relevant to our modern society. It is especially relevant as we look at the conduct of government and religious leaders. Why is it especially relevant in those? Well, remember the target audience of Proverbs. We are the end-line target, but there were two audiences closer to mind in the writing.

The next one is the people of Israel in general, but if we take Proverbs plainly, the goal was to provide wisdom to the next kings of Israel. These were the future spiritual and governmental leaders--so Proverbs is exceptionally helpful in addressing leadership needs.

So, we come to this couplet. As with many of the Proverbs, 10:23 is a coupled pair of thoughts. The first thing to notice is hard to see in English, though. The NASB comes close to showing it, but I want to highlight it clearly here. The first half of the verse contains more words than the second half. It brings out the contrast:

Doing wickedness is like sport to a fool

wisdom to a man of understanding.

What does this mean? To clear it up, realize this: the "like sport" is a translation that also could be "pleasurable" or "pleasing," it's the idea of something fun and enjoyable. (There's a sideline here about sports being enjoyable--and when they're not, quit.) We see the same concept applied to both wickedness and wisdom, fools and understanding men.

The fool finds pleasure in the wicked, and the righteous in wisdom. They find the same type of emotional satisfaction, the same enjoyment in two separate things.

Coming to us, then, we should see clearly that people who enjoy wickedness are fools.

And fools are bad. Bad for themselves, their neighbors, their countries, their religions--fools are bad. If you encounter someone who takes delight in wickedness, then that person must not be entrusted with responsibility.

That includes the idea that they take pleasure in it as entertainment, even if not participating. Allowing fools into leadership is self-destructive. If you have the power to stop fools and do not, then you enable fools and partner with them in destruction. Which is bad.

What we entertain ourselves with, what we consider sporting and fun matters--it reveals what we are inside.

Wisdom or wickedness? Because the one who seeks wisdom for entertainment--that person is a man of understanding and is worth trusting.


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