Monday, October 26, 2009

Pr 26

Pr 26:13-16. Today's One Year Bible proverb refuses to go away. The passage on October 9 (Pr 24:30-34) was almost my choice for that day. But here, there's humor (26:15), imaging (26:14), caricature (26:13), and a surprise conclusion (26:16). Plus, it could be me, not just you.... ;)

The point of v. 13 is obviously not foolhardiness: a lion in the road or streets must not kill us! But we read who says this: it is this sluggard, and this sluggard is not giving us a faithful news report. He's giving somebody an answer for not working! So we are invited to consider the answer. What kind of excuse is it?

Number one, it's exaggeration. Are there difficulties on the road? Sure. Are they lions? The sluggard "says" -- i.e., characteristically says -- they are. Assume the sluggard is taking a difficulty, and saying it's a life-threatening difficulty. Why is the sluggard doing that? In order to not work.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but a life-threatening difficulty normally calls for something dramatic to be done. That's where the second part of the idea comes in. The difficulty is "in the road ... in the streets!" In other words, where we would normally go TO GET work done, is where the life-threatening danger is. The sluggard here is not asking to sleep all day, but to not go out! The very means of working is blocked, so "obviously" no work today.

The caricature is that the sluggard (characteristically) is someone who "says." What's absent is the action item. The sluggard actually never gets to the subject of taking action. Have you ever wondered if someone would ever bring themselves to act? Here, once the excuse is expressed, there is nothing after that. No plan about the lion. No plan about the streets. The pocket veto. Not even subsequent observations. Why? Maybe the next verse!

The better we know a door, the more unsurprised we are at its current location. It's never far from the location we saw it last time at. Depending on the door, about 180 degrees. Its hinges move the least. So, the sluggard is on his bed in one position, on his bed in another, but never very differently; all the positions are on his bed.

Later that day. Major progress. The sluggard is up: initiative has been taken! We're hoping that it will continue (although it is only as far as the food). Another image here (26:15). Was there initiative? Yes. Is it a good initiative? Sure. We might even be very proud of the initiative: we might call it energetic! To bury your hand into the dish is certainly a great start at the meal, and might even take a great initial thrust! But first of all, that doesn't do anything for the goal, which is to eat. To eat, the sluggard has to get it "back to his mouth," and that is the day's work. In the ESV it's done, but it's all that's done. Don't expect anything post-breakfast. Other translations hint that only one bite gets done, or even none.

Now (26:16), a very startling and shocking concomitant of the sluggard's behavior, that we would have never expected by observation alone: inside the sluggard's head! What in the world is there ... but an opinion of himself seven times greater than good sense would allow. All those problems behaviorally -- accompanied by a sorry high opinion of himself. The idea of "seven men who can answer sensibly" is standard hyperbole: In other words, way too much self-approval, seven times as much as if he wasn't a sluggard.

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