A good discipline for gaining wisdom is to meditate on the book on wisdom daily. A chapter of Proverbs a day keeps folly away. For instance, this morning, November 19, I read chapter 19. I spent most of my time on the first ten verses, for I noticed a pattern to these proverbs that connects them together:

  • First, I saw that verses 5 and 9 are nearly identical in their disdain for a false witness; the only difference is in the outcome of the “he who breathes out lies” in the second lines.
  • Next, I noticed that verses 4 and 6-7 refer to the friends that connect with a person only because of that person’s wealth (i.e., “gold-diggers”).
  • Third, I noticed a textual note in my ESV that “desire” in verse 2 could (and probably should, now that I’ve at my Hebrew text) be translated “soul”. If so, that would provide another link with verse 8, as it is already connected by teaching the goodness of knowledge/understanding, as opposed to making a rash decision.
  • Finally, verses 1 and 10 contrast poverty for a person of integrity and wealth and power for a “twisted-lips” fool.
  • Does all of this mean anything? I think so. I think that there is a micro-level and a macro-level to wisdom in the book of Proverbs. Most of us are familiar with reading Proverbs on the micro-level, one proverb at a time. There is, however, much wisdom that is overlooked because we aren’t used to seeing how proverbs fit together to communicate wisdom on the macro-level. Each of the individual proverbs in 19:1-10 are full of wisdom, but taken together one finds a larger message. What is that message? I think it’s this: The great collapse (re: poverty, desertion, rage against the LORD, perish) of those who hasten toward dishonest gain (re: bribery/false witness) judges a person of integrity to be in a better position, even in poverty. Losing your integrity for money may sound like an offer you can’t refuse– “think of the friends you’ll gain, think of the life you’ll have”– but the ruin will be great. It’s better to be broke and keep your integrity, for though you may not gain much, you won’t lose much either!

    Where does this wisdom fit in daily life? For the student, the gain of cheating may bring eligibility for the football team, which brings fans (and cheerleaders). But when you get caught for plagiarizing, you lose your scholarship, get expelled and kicked off the team. For the CEO, adjusting the numbers might help you make it to the Fortune 500 or Forbes lists, but if they find out, you’ll be the next Enron. You might not wind up with much, but it is always better to maintain your integrity. How does this fit into your life?