The Story:Solomon tries to get his son to focus on things that last. Precious ointment may be of great value, but it is not to be compared with a good name. One’s name, in the sense of his memory or legacy, can endure for many generations; therefore, he is wise who lives for the generations. We should not read the second part of this verse as suggesting that dying is better than living; that’s not Solomon’s point. Biblical faith, while mindful of the past and anchored to the present, is a future-oriented faith. Those who live “under the heavens” know that the full realization of their hope lies beyond time and history; thus, they live in the present in the light of past promises and blessings, ever moving toward their future hope of glory (2 Pet. 3.1-13). The fool, on the other hand, thinks only about present pleasures.
The Structure:There are many advantages to teaching in proverbs, as Solomon is doing here. Proverbs encapsulate common sense or everyday observations which are generally received with agreement. Proverbs are also easily memorized and can sometimes convey memorable images. They can also include an element of surprise – a kind of “ah-hah!” moment. Just as Solomon employed a wide range of literary genre in order to reach his son, Scripture does the same. It is a measure of the grace of God that He goes to such lengths to communicate Truth to self-centered, live-for-the-moment people such as we.
Does God’s use of many different types of literature suggest anything about your own approach to reaching lost people with the Gospel?
Each week’s studies in our Scriptorium column are available in a free PDF form, suitable for personal or group use. For this week’s study, “Telling it Slant (1),” simply click here.
T. M. Moore
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.