The Story:Solomon surely was aware of Rehoboam’s friends, the young men whose counsel he would heed in turning away from the course of wisdom to folly (2 Chron. 10). It may be hard to listen to a wise man as he lays bare themotives of our hearts and tells us things we don’t want to hear. But, in the end, it is far better to hear the wise man’s rebuke than to heed the advice of fools. The words of fools are pleasant, like a song, but they are also fleeting and insubstantial – like a thorn bush in the fire. It may flare up brilliantly, but it won’t provide enough sustained heat to cook whatever’s in the pot. The word “oppression” in verse 7 is perhaps better translated “fraud.” The wise man who lives a lie becomes a fool (“destroys a wise man’s reason”), as surely as a bribe corrupts the heart of an honest man. We can imagine that Rehoboam must have squirmed somewhat in hearing these words from his father.
The Structure:Another advantage of proverbs is that they allow us to say difficult things indirectly, and so leave room for people to interpret those words to their own situations as each case may allow (when the shoe fits, etc.). Proverbs cause the mind to become active and engaged; stories and poetry have a similar ability. The skillful communicator of truth will explore every means of circumscribing, penetrating, and illuminating the minds of those whose outlook has been darkened by self-interest and seem impervious to rational argumentation. Everyone we will try to reach with the Gospel has his own counsel of fools. We’ll need to be very skillful and patient in trying to get around or over the hedge of folly each unbeliever has built around his heart and mind.
Has a story, poem, or proverb – or perhaps the lyrics of a song or a particular film – ever made a convicting impact on your heart and mind? Do you think this could be true as well of unbelievers?
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.