Proverbial Pensées, Part 13 of 31

A wise person is unmistakable: she learns by her mistakes (Prov 13:1, 13, 18), uses her words to produce and sustain goodness for others (13:2-3), finds satisfaction in her diligent efforts (13:4), loves the truth (13:5), finds protection in living consistently with her beliefs (13:6) and modestly with her wealth (13:7), is manifestly evident to others (13:9), attentive to others’ input (13:10), is not impetuous but sees value in the gradual growth of wealth (13:11), and her life choices are informed by knowledge (13:16).

Two more observations. First, all humans are impressionable and make an impression. We cannot avoid the impact of others upon us nor do we avoid returning the favor. No matter the extent of maverick spirit or independent attitude, we are all shaped, in some measure, by those around us. A decent dose of sociology tells us so as does inspired Scripture. The opening verses of Psalm 1, for instance, make this clear. So too Prov 13:20 “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” I’m convinced that most of the wisdom I’ve gained over the years (however nominal it really is!), has been gained by being around others with more wisdom than me. I cannot begin to recount how many thoughts, ideas, and opinions I’ve shared with others that have been given me by another. There is very little useful knowledge or wisdom that I have that is truly my own. Most of what I know has been learned by reading or dialog. The lesson here is simple: To gain wisdom we must be exposed to it.

Second, the rod that is spared in Prov 13:24 is not necessarily literal, though it may include a physical instrument used for the modest correction of a child. More specifically, the rod is a metaphor for discipline, however that is achieved within the confines of safety to the child and modification of the errant behavior. It could read “Whoever neglects the discipline of their child shows they do not love them as much as those who are diligent to correct them.” For my 3-year old grandson, his mother and father have elected to use “time out,” rather than any physical contact in correction. So far it’s effective and they’re diligent to explain to him how he’s gone wrong by the time his 3 minutes of sitting on a stool in the corner of a room where he’s visibly present have ended. (For more insights, see this post.)

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