We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.... We've completed our Advent study and this morning return to our glimpse into the book of Proverbs. Our last meditation ended with Proverbs 12:15, so we will take up from there:
Fools show their anger at once, but the prudent ignore an insult. Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness speaks deceitfully. Rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment. Deceit is in the mind of those who plan evil, but those who counsel peace have joy. No harm happens to the righteous, but the wicked are filled with trouble. Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight. One who is clever conceals knowledge, but the mind of a fool broadcasts folly. The hand of the diligent will rule, while the lazy will be put to forced labor. Anxiety weighs down the human heart, but a good word cheers it up. The lazy do not roast their game, but the diligent obtain precious wealth. In the path of righteousness there is life, in walking its path there is no death. (Prov. 12:16-28)
Once again, the advice given seemingly leaps from topic to topic with no real central theme. But there is a theme here, which comes from v. 28: "In the path of righteousness there is life...." In theses verses, the psalmist focuses on controlling our anger, speaking truthfully, working diligently at whatever we do, and lifting up in our manner of speech to them. V. 21 presents us with a bit of a conundrum: "No harm happens to the righteous, but the wicked are filled with trouble." As happens frequently in the Proverbs, the author makes a statement that, on the face of it, seems untrue (or at least unlikely). We all know that sometimes harm does come to the righteous person - and we also know "wicked" people who seemingly go through life unscathed. So, what is Solomon saying? Perhaps he's speaking from an "end of life" perspective - that the righteousness will triumph in the end and the wicked will fall. Or perhaps he's speaking more of a sense of inner peace and contentment (which I personally think is more likely the case).
Meditation: What one verse do you struggle with the most? (We all have something we struggle to control - being too quick to anger, speaking before thinking, pride, lying, failing to lift up others). Pick out the verse that speaks loudest to you and think about what you can do to move onto the "path of righteousness."