Proverbs 15:8


 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord,
 but the prayer of the upright is his delight.

My translation: The sacrifice of the wicked/abomination to the Lord, prayer of the upright/his favor.

This sentiment is found throughout scripture:

1 Sam. 15:22 – And Samuel said, ‘Has the Lord as great delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices, as in obedience to the voice of the Lord? Surely, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.

Psalm 51:17 – The sacrifice acceptable to God* is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Psalm 141:2 – Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice. 

Isaiah 1:11 – What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the Lord; I have had enough of burnt-offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats.

Jeremiah 6:20 – Of what use to me is frankincense that comes from Sheba, or sweet cane from a distant land?  Your burnt-offerings are not acceptable, nor are your sacrifices pleasing to me.

This proverb moves us from the dichotomy of the lips and heart down into the heart itself.  It points our attention to the way one presents themselves before God.  Both the wicked and the righteous present themselves before God in the prescribed ways in order to follow the letter of the law.  However, it is the disposition of the person that determines the quality of their sacrifice.  The wise and righteous have already sacrificed to God by sacrificing of themselves to others as God has done for all.  The wicked only sacrifice to God in order to gain favor for themselves and do not show that favor to others.  They seek eternal security while providing their own security at the expense of those around them.  The sacrifice itself is from “ill-gotten” wealth if they are able to give in sacrifice but others are starving and suffering.  

This proverb points my attention back to Cain and Abel, looking at the quality of their sacrifices. Nowhere in the Genesis story is any actual judgment passed on their sacrifices, nor on the quality or disposition of either of the brothers.  It’s only that God accepted one sacrifice and denied another.  And in this seemingly terse action, Cain’s disposition grew cruel against Abel (and maybe Abel’s grew proud, although, I believe he stayed within virtue).  Alas, it is possible that it wasn’t the sacrifice that God judged, but the people.  God know Cain’s disposition to wrath, and selfish pride.  Cain needed to be validated by God for Cain’s sake.  Cain did not seek God’s favor for God’s sake.  At least that may be the clue the proverb provides us.  

However, the story also tells of no judgments made on either of the brothers except when they judge themselves.  

 

Proverbs 15:7


The lips of the wise spread knowledge;
not so the minds of fools.

My translation: The lips of the wise sow/scatter knowledge, but the heart of the foolish not so

Wisdom and knowledge go hand in hand.  Foolishness and knowledge do not.  The simplicity of this proverb contains a question by placing in parallel the lips and heart.  What is in the heart of the wise, and what do the lips of the foolish do?  

The heart is the place where one’s “seed” grows.  It is the place of the inner dispositions, the habits, and the beliefs that we act on.  Thus, the heart of the wise contains wisdom and discernment, bearing the seeds of knowledge that they scatter with their words.  This paints a beautifully wistful picture of a carefree hands adorning the ground with seed, blowing seed into the air and watching it carry on the wind, and even the ebb and flow of a field in the wind.  It is the natural beauty of knowledge.  

But the same activity is true for the foolish.  Their heart produces seed, and their lips scatter it, but it is not the seed of knowledge.  It is the seed of vice, selfishness, short-sightedness, and foolishness.  It is the seed of thistles and thorns that chokes out the seed of wisdom.  They are the hooligans who sneak into a person’s field and spreads corrupt seeds to ruin the crop.  (Matt. 13:24-30).  

These images should take us to the stars scattered in the sky and the sands of the sea in God’s covenant to Abraham.  It should direct our minds to Gideon hiding in the threshing barn as God calls him.  Or to Boaz, who is dangerously approached by Ruth after his work threshing the wheat.  Ultimately it should direct us to Matthew 13 where the Kingdom of God is like a sower scattering seed, and a field of wheat and weeds.  

God’s lips scattered God’s word and the world was created, the Red Sea parted, armies were routed, rains came, and Jesus resurrected.  Our lips have the same ability to scatter seed that will create life.  They also have the ability to slowly choke life out.  We must be aware of the disposition of our hearts.  

Hear then the parable.

Proverbs 15:6


In the house of the righteous there is much treasure,
but trouble befalls the income of the wicked.

My translation: The house of righteousness (has) great wealth, But with the revenue of the wicked is one troubled (cut off).

In reading the news yesterday, I came across a piece in the Wall Street Journal that made me gawk with disbelief.  

 

Image

The article explains the increases that American’s will face over the 2013 year.  However, when looking at the graphic they provide, there is no way that this article relates to me, nor the majority of income earning Americans.  When the lowest income represented is $180,000, with a $22,000 tax, and the poverty threshold sits around $30-40,000, there is a huge gap of people unrepresented.  And it irks me that people complain about taxes when they make enough to pay for more than one family to live each year.  

The house of the righteous will have much treasure.  We need to extend our view beyond the western, individualist mindset that a house is my house.  A house is the entirety of a family, tribe, or even a community.  It is a group of people that belong together by blood and relation.  We must also extend our imaginations to understand the concept of wealth.  It is not only income, but possessions and the the things we produce with our hands.  It is seen in food, clothing, shelter, transportation, hobbies, free time, friendships, relationships, etc.  Thus, the house of the righteous has great wealth.  It has wealth in joy, satisfaction, sustenance, and provision.  Thus, the wealth is not for the self, nor the individual family, but it is shared among all the members of the house.  This is the greatest sign of wealth, that it is shared in joy.  This is the righteousness of wealth, that all are taken care of.  The Torah law, and the demands of Grace give a circular logic: righteousness means to use wealth for all people, especially the poor and the marginalized.  But by acting righteous, we receive wealth.  Righteousness gives out, righteousness receives.

The fools produce is in calamity, or cut off.  When someone is foolish with their wealth, it is wasted on temporal and fleeting things, never to be seen again.  When someone buys an abundance of material items, they incur not only the initial cost of the items, but also the cost of upkeep and maintenance, causing more of their wealth to be taken.  When miserly people hoard their wealth, they also cut off their relationships with those around them.  They sit behind the gates of their houses in fear that those outside will take their wealth.  But the lesson of Ecclesiastes should be heard: you will die, and your wealth will be taken by others.  

The reason I bring up the WSJ picture is to point out the flaw in our thinking.  As long as we make enough to live, then we are blessed.  Who are we to control the extra?  It is a gift given to us under the demands of grace: Sell everything you have and give it to the poor.  

Picture: Saunders, Laura. Wall Street Journal, “How Much Will Your Taxes Jump?,”  published 1.5.2013 (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323689604578220132665726040.html#project%3DWEALTH0105%26articleTabs%3Darticle)

 

Proverbs 15:5


A fool despises a parent’s instruction,
but the one who heeds admonition is prudent.

My translation: A fool despises a father’s instruction, but a guard of reproof is prudent

I was speaking to a parent last night about how I realized the importance and influence of my parents’ instruction and discipline years after I had left home for college.  As a teenager I was not a typical rebel in which I fought my parents.  Instead, I’d agree with them and then go on to ignore what they said.  It was the passive and lazy way of rebellion, because that’s my mode of operation: the path of least resistance.  But, reality is that every child is somewhat foolish and somewhat wise.  That is the nature of learning.  At times you know everything, and at other times you know nothing.

But, the fool despises a parent’s instruction.  This is not to ignore it, nor to be apathetic to it.  It is to actively despise it and work against it.  The relationship between parent and child is the primary relationship metaphor that is talked about in Proverbs.  It is the setting for chapters 1-9, and is repeated throughout 10-31.  It is the primary learning relationship.  A child is a product, both by nature and nurture, of their parents.  But the first fruits of a developing fool is the hatred of their parents’ instruction.  Of course, if the parents follow foolishness, so too will their children.  The Hebrew mindset is one of freedom of the learner.  They decide their disposition to their teachers and parents.

The guard of reproof is prudent.  This is a different picture for a good student, or a wise person. A guard, one who watches diligently, one who stays up through day and night to protect something, this is a prudent person.  And they guard discipline!  Again, discipline can be positive or negative.  Here, it is the act of refining a person, of guiding them with bit and lead like a horse.  Discipline may be positive, which is actively sought and easily guarded.  Often, though, in Proverbs, it is negative.  This is a discipline that anyone would want to walk away from, forget, or despise.  No one wants to keep pain, nor the memory of pain.  Both pain and reward form a person’s actions.  In this way we are animals, seeking treats and flinching from strikes.

We tend to shy away from the of God, the Father, who disciplines the children.  We rightfully want to dismantle the picture of God as the raging, uncontrolled, abusive father who beats us at night and tries to win us back with breakfast in the morning.  But we must not shy away from the picture of God, the Father, who refines us and allows us to make mistakes, who lets us experience our own consequences, and teaches us through both reward and punishment.  But, we must remember that God’s discipline begins with the absolutely undeserved grace, and an adoption that we are not worthy of.  God invites us into the heavenly family, and refines us within its context.

Proverbs 15:4


A gentle tongue is a tree of life,
but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.

My Hebrew Translation: A calm tongue a tree of life; but crookedness in it (tongue) a break in spirit.  (We want to complete the sentences in English, but sometimes it’s only a word picture).

And so we return to our focus on speech and the tongue, being immediately reminded of the “soft answer” in 15:1.  This is the second time that something like gentle/calm is a characteristic of the mouth.  And this calmness is equated directly with the a tree of life.  No verb is used.  It’s only the structure: A calm tongue = a tree of life.  We are transported back to the Garden of Eden, and two trees: knowledge and life.  

The tree of knowledge bears its fruit for us to eat, but only as it is given by God.  The command in Eden was to not eat of the tree of knowledge.  I believe this is because knowledge is not benign, but it is living and acting.  Knowledge requires us to judge for ourselves if something is true.  This is the entire project of Wisdom Literature.  But, the difference between Eden’s tree of knowledge and Proverb’s wisdom is that the wisdom of Proverbs is sent from God as a gift to us, and we are commanded to learn from it directly.  

But there is a second tree, mentioned, but silenced just as quickly: The tree of life.  It is the center of all life, for it lies at the center of the garden, which was the center of creation.  This powerful tree is equated to our tongues.  If we tend the trees of knowledge and life, we will plant their seeds within us and bear their fruits ourselves.  We have no need to take from them, for they will give to us.  First we grow the seed of knowledge through wisdom, and as that seed bears fruit, so too does the fruit of life grow mysteriously within us.  We understand God’s directions in creation and know how to best follow them.  We know how to bring peace and life to all situations.  This should point our imaginations toward the end of Revelation, where the tree of life is growing in the midst of the new Jerusalem.  This is the kind of life we speak, the life beyond death, true life eternal.

But a crooked/perverse tongue = a broken spirit.  It is the crooked and perverse tongue that accuses, lies, condemns and passes judgment.  This tongue speaks quickly in self interest, seeking to be heard above the wisdom of God.  This is the tongue that Adam used to tell God, “It was the woman you gave me!” and Eve, “It was the snake who tricked me!”  Their spirits are already broken, cursing us to death.  And in the learning of wisdom, we can become like Adam and Eve, accusing and blaming in an attempt to guard ourselves against judgment.  What a futile effort.  We only break our own spirit and the spirits of those around us.  Our tongues pour out the wrath and pestilence of Revelation onto each other, burning their skin, spreading disease, and causing famine.  

A gentle tongue

a tree of life

Proverbs 15:3


The eyes of the Lord are in every place,
keeping watch on the evil and the good.

My translation: In all places are the eyes of the Lord, the watchers of the evil and good people.

Chapter 15 gives us 2 verses about speech and teaching, and then breaks the flow with a saying about God’s constant watch.  Why?  First off, speech is something seen by the eyes, but heard by the ears.  Thus, God shouldn’t be seeing everything, but hearing all words and intents.  However, this might be to balance the focus on speech.  It’s not only speech, but action that is determining of a person.  And God is the ultimate determiner.

This proverb is like a saying my mother always told me.  “Remember, God’s always watching.”  This is probably the most burdening and dreadful thing for a child to hear.  A child is constantly trying to live up to his/her parents/teachers/adults’ expectations.  They know they are constantly judged by the elders around them.  Their work is graded by teachers, their performance is given active and constant feedback at practices, and balancing between pleasing and disappointing their parents.  And with this bit of Wisdom fed to them as they are leaving the eyes of parents makes God into the divine judge, holding the kid in the balance.  I must be honest, it drove me nuts as a child.  I hated hearing this, and thus, I stopped caring what God saw.  I mean, seriously, what was God going to do to me in the present?  Sure, my soul may be damned in the end, but I don’t need to worry about that now.  

Though this proverb can be used as the “divine parent and judge,” it serves to establish a deeper truth.  It is the truth of Ecclesiastes, and of Job in the torrent.  It is the fact that both good and bad happen under God’s watch.  The good and the evil are both under God’s view, and God has an order to creation.  This actually isn’t a very comforting proverb for those who want some concrete promise that God has ordered the world in their favor.  The righteous aren’t assured that God is working in their favor now.  But they can be assured that God’s order is and will prevail in the end.  Essentially, the reassurance of this wisdom is that despite the situation, God sees and knows it, and God is in control.  

Now, this reassurance does not allow us to passively accept evil in the world, nor does it permit us to actively engage in evil.  Instead, the silent voice of the marginal and oppressed must be heard.  The Torah must be heard.  The Gospel must be heard.  As we confront areas in life and the world that do not fit God’s revealed order, we may become like the psalmist or Job, calling God to see, hear, and truly know what is happening in God’s creation.  We can take God to the court of the cosmos and demand that God act like God promised to act.  But, we must admit even in these times that God, who we are accusing of being distant, detached, or unfair, this God is also our redeemer.  This God’s eyes are everywhere and sees the evil and good.  

What will this God do?

Proverbs 15:2


The tongue of the wise dispenses knowledge,
but the mouths of fools pour out folly.

My Hebrew translation: A tongue of wise ones makes good knowledge, but a mouth of fools  pours forth folly.

The simple proverb continues, following verse 1’s focus on language.  Here it has gone from the specific soft answer/harsh word (vs. 1) to the more broad category of wise/fool.  However, one my understand that the one who knows how to speak in situations (vs. 1) will be the wise.  This is taken in the verbs of vs. 2.  The wise makes, creates, produces good knowledge.  Their words spring from the factory of insight, thought, and discernment, and are carefully placed on their tongues to be delivered to the public.  Their words bring about knowledge, both in formal teaching and informal clarity.  As I affirmed about vs. 1, the wise do not use their words for meaningless approval, or avoidance of rebuke.  Instead, they understand how to bring discipline and clarity without hurting or damaging a person.  Thus, their words make good knowledge.  They bring clarity and order to vague, opaque and chaotic situations.  They also inadvertently show how to be a mediator and diffuser of harmful situations while speaking honestly.  

On the other hand, the mouth of the foolish pours out folly.  There is no making, but only vomiting.  The words are not processed and refined, but pour out sharp, rough, and violently, like a landslide.  Thus, their words hurt and increase the pain of all around them.  These words don’t teach, they harm, maim, kill, and bury in the flurry of thoughtlessness.  These are people who can’t think beyond themselves.  They don’t have the foresight or discernment to be empathetic, or to even understand the whole of a situation.  They can only see in light of themselves.  Since they are their own center, they are the demi-god of any situation, and their words are the most important, whatever they are.  So folly pours forth, carrying all in its torrent.

Again, when it comes to speaking, I’m drawn to the words of Jesus with the tests of Pharisees and Saducees, and even before the Sanhedrin.  In all ways they try to trap him with questions: should we pay taxes?/Whose face is on the coin? Caesar? Give to Caesar what is his; who will be married in heaven?/We are all family in heaven and know each other; We have found this woman in adultery!/He who has no sin can throw the first stone; Are you the king of the Jews?/You say that I am.

In each situation Jesus speaks honestly and wisely, bringing clarity to the situation.  He cuts to the true matter, past the foolish intent of the question.  This is what the words of the wise do, they cut us quickly to reveal the true issue, and strip us of our preconceived problems and notions.  However, when it attempts to strip us of an orthodox fallacy, we retaliate in violence.  But the wise never attempt to harm or escalate the violence, only to clear the lies we live in.  

Now, I’m going to trail off into an example.  I have thought recently about gun control and the issue of gun violence and death in our society.  The gun is an easy and simple weapon, making exceedingly violent acts quick, simple, and clean.  We can stand away from a person or animal and kill it without getting our own hands dirty, or even seeing the look on someone’s face.  Thus, the violence becomes impersonal.  This is my belief for the ease and increase in violence.  

Now, when it comes to gun control there is a fallacy that must be stripped away.  I have heard the argument, “Criminals will get guns illegally and use them anyway, so we won’t stop criminals.”  Yes, in the case of pre-meditated criminal murder, they do and will plan enough ahead to get their weapons.  However, in the case of school shootings, crimes of passion, and instances of desperation this “rule” is not the case.  The crime of passion does not plan itself to find a weapon from a market (legal or illegal), buy it, and then use it days/weeks later.  By that time the anger and passion has diffused.  Mass shootings and murders of passion happen because a weapon is convenient and accessible without thought or premeditation.  This is the problem.  We aren’t trying to stop the professional or amateur criminal in this case.  We are trying to prevent violence in moments of madness and passion that we can’t control.  I hope this provides some clarity.

Proverbs 15:1


A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.

My translation: A soft answer turns wrath, but a hurting word brings up how much more/anger (the Hebrew af can mean either “nose/anger” [bdb 60] or “also/how much more” in poetic speech [bdb 64])

With the move to chapter 15, we meet a sharp divide between houses, kingdoms, building, and destroying.  Now we have a simple suggestion for everyday life.  Speak kindly, especially in harsh or wrathful situations.  This will help diffuse anger and bring peace.  If you use hurtful speech you will only continue and increase the anger.

What a beautifully simple piece of wisdom.

Now might think that one must be strong, hold their ground, demand their rights, and chastise those who are wrong to put them in their place.  These kind of people live by the wisdom, “speak bluntly and plainly without concern for feelings or emotions, for the message is more important than tact.”  It’s the John Wayne style of shoot first, ask questions later.  We are more concerned about making sure that our point is heard clearly, and absolutely understood, than we are that we understand another person.  And many of us realize the connection between emotion and thinking, so we seek to berate and shame people with our “simple and blunt” message, beating them down as if we our simply blunt words were a bat.  Once we have left them broken, bloody, and whimpering, then they have understood our message.

However, whenever you attack someone (whether you intend to or not), they will fight back and you will come away with increased anger and resentment instead of peace and understanding. Proverbs does not tell us to not be truthful, simple, or honest.  It tells us that in our honesty we should also be tactful.  This proceeds other proverbs that suggest quiet and silence are better than constant words and talking.  It suggests that we must understand that we don’t always need to be heard.  But, when we do speak, we speak honestly and tactfully, saying kind words in order to turn wrath away.

(Now this can also be a manipulation told to the young: speak nicely to authority and it will turn away wrath, argue with authority and how much more wrath will come?).

Matthew 26, Mark 14, and John 18 all tell the story of a disciple cutting off the ear of the high priest’s slave when the mob comes to arrest Jesus.  A tense situation full of anger and wrath comes to a head when Judas kisses Jesus, and then Peter (Mark) draws his sword and cuts the ear off an opposing servant.  Painful and hurtful words and rumors had been spoken about Jesus in order to create this angry lynch mob, and the mob brings with it more fear and anger causing Peter to fight back, bringing more fear and anger…

But Jesus quietly bends down, and picks up the ear.  He then dusts it off and brings it back to the servant’s face, healing the wound.  Instead of escalating the anger and fear further, Jesus diffused the situation by a kind gesture, allowing someone to hear.  Even though it meant his trial and death, Christ still healed the servant and allowed himself to be taken into custody.  And throughout custody and accusation Jesus never spoke a hurtful word, but only spoke the simple truth.  Finally, Jesus speaks the kindest word on the cross to his enemies: “Forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.”

Though the anger killed Jesus, he did nothing to make it grow.  Instead, he acting gently and kindly to all he met.  He showed them their errors in testimony through simple, non-attacking language, and received his inevitable fate (for their wrath could not be turned, because they had cut off their own ears and could not hear the truth.).

Proverbs 14:35


A servant who deals wisely has the king’s favour,
but his wrath falls on one who acts shamefully.

Or, in Hebrew: The kings favor is for a prudent servant; his wrath will overflow on a shameful person/a person who is being shameful.

This proverb takes the more universal scope of 14:34 (Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people) and makes it more direct and personal.  Not only do the rules of righteousness and sin/wise and fool apply to nations, but they apply within the nations as well.  They apply to every person and servant, not just to kings.  And, oddly enough, it is not God’s favor or wrath, but a kings favor/wrath.  This Proverb just yells the stories of Joseph and Daniel, who both went through some sort of judgment, but who also received an abundance of favor while others received wrath from foreign kings.  And both characters had tests of decision between Torah righteousness and wickedness (Joseph’s temptation by Potifar’s wife; Daniel’s diet/refusal to quit praying).  Both characters were wise and prudent servants of both God and king.  

However, this does not hold true in the case of Moses, who is esteemed to be prudent, but, due to murder, is cast out of the king’s court, but oddly enough brought into God’s court.  He then returns as a servant of the True King to challenge Egypt’s king.  

Only so much information can be contained within a proverb, and we must understand that all proverbs are subject to the rule at the beginning of the entire book: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom.  Thus, we are servants in the court of the most high, and secondly we may be servants to a king.  Yet earthly kings are fickle and idolatrous.

The second part of the proverb holds fairly true.  If one is not prudent to a King’s ways and desires, then, in the king’s eyes, he/she will act shamefully and be punished.  Further, if someone acts blatantly shameful, then wrath will fall on them despite who they are.  But we must not enjoy these moments of judgment against the shameful.  For the righteous may be judged shameful by wicked kings.  

Thus, the servant and Son of God, Jesus, was judged by foolish kings as shameful, and received the wrath of the governments on the cross.  Thus many prudent and wise servants of God and country have become martyrs by the hands of the government.  

On a final note: Chapter 14 began with building a house.  Now it ends with a king keeping his country in order.  It is fairly universal: A woman builds her house in wisdom, and nation is favored by righteousness, and a king keeps order through favoring wisdom; A woman tears down a house in foolishness, sin brings destitution to peoples, and a king punishes the shameful.

Proverbs 14:34


Righteousness exalts a nation,
but sin is a reproach to any people.

At first glance, this is ridiculously straightforward.  And, I think we’ve heard this refrain many times.  However, with a closer look, there are some ridiculous difficulties. 

The first part remains the same in English and Hebrew: Righteousness exalts a nation

But the second part bears a severe difficulty: it begins with the noun chesed.  This is a famous Hebrew word meaning covenant love/faithfulness, and is used to identify God’s character in Exodus 34 (when God restores Israel after the Golden Calf).  Thus, it should read something like “and covenant love is to sinful peoples.”  Wait… really?  With the mood of Proverbs, is this sort of universalistic cheerfulness true?  God exalts the righteous and preserves the sinful with covenant love?  This could be argued to be true, especially with the fact that God refuses to release Israel from the covenant despite their constant sin and idolatry.  

But, alas, it doesn’t hold true to Proverb’s overall structure and writing.  And I highly doubt that someone slipped this in unnoticed by other scribes.  Instead, the BDB lexicon pairs this one instance with another in Leviticus and defines it as “shame/reproach.”  But why would chesed mean covenant love, and then its opposite, shame/reproach.  This doesn’t make logical sense. Robert Alter, in his translation (the Wisdom Books) makes note that the Hebrew characters for R and D are exceedingly close (the D has a small tail on top, the R doesn’t).  Thus, it could be a scribal error and actually be Cheser – to lack, have want.

Thus: “Want is to sinful peoples.”  I’m going with this translation (although I do love the oddity of covenant love being to sinful people, and figuring out what that means).

So, YAY for textual problems.  Now, this proverb is a literal and clear interpretation of the “clothing” metaphor that has tracked throughout (vs. 18, 24-25): Wisdom adorning the righteous, folly draping the simple and foolish.  We can finally see the reality of the metaphor: righteousness exalts a nation, raises their reputation, parades them among other nations in royal processions and garments; sinfulness makes a nation in want, in poverty, in shame, dressing them in sackcloth and ashes, painting their faces with dirt and muck, making the sinful the poor and disdained of society (which we have been warned against).

So the student is given the full lesson of the metaphor!  

But now comes interpretation.  Again, the beginning is straightforward, and hoped for.  Although, it isn’t always true.  Often, the righteous are disdained and not exalted.  Or they are exalted as Jesus was exalted, literally “lifted up,” on the cross.  

And, on the other side, the sinful are shamed.  Absolutely.  They look like fools in the media when their errors are exposed, and we hate them.  But, they often show little shame, for they have made us the fools along with them.  How often was this the case in the recent banking crisis of the past years (2008-2012)?  And so we hate them and shame them for making us look like fools.  But, the metaphor demands something of us.  We must recognize that the shame of fools makes them the poor outside our gates (vs. 19-20).  And the Proverbs have just demanded that we do not act like rich fools who hate the poor, but that we be righteous and love the poor.  So, too, should we reach out to the shamed fools and attempt to redeem them.  

Honestly, these small turns in the Proverbs are exhausting.  But they demand our attention. Remember, Torah law and God’s grace are the center of wisdom’s metaphors.