Balance. A lot is said today about keeping things in balance. But it's not a new thought at all. The same idea can be found in ancient wisdom, even in the Proverbs of King Solomon.
Another way of expressing the idea of maintaining balance is to find a happy medium. Either way, the idea is to find a place between two extremes. However, a happy medium isn't about mediocrity or blandness.
Sometimes, there may not be a good place between two extremes. Sometimes, we need to go as far as we can from an extreme, and sometimes, the extreme may be desirable. In the end, it's not about finding a comfortable place, but the right place.
I ask two things from you, Lord. Don’t refuse me before I die. Keep me from lying and being dishonest. And don’t make me either rich or poor; just give me enough food for each day. If I have too much, I might reject you and say, " don’t know the Lord." If I am poor, I might steal and disgrace the name of my God. [vss 7-9]
Greed has two daughters named "Give" and "Give." There are three things that are never satisfied, really four that never say, "I’ve had enough!": the cemetery, the childless mother, the land that never gets enough rain, and fire that never says, "I’ve had enough!"
There are three things that are too hard for me, really four I don’t understand: the way an eagle flies in the sky, the way a snake slides over a rock, the way a ship sails on the sea, and the way a man and a woman fall in love. [vss 15-16, 18-19]
There are three things that make the earth tremble, really four it cannot stand: a servant who becomes a king, a foolish person who has plenty to eat, a hated [unloved] woman who gets married, and a maid who replaces her mistress
There are four things on earth that are small, but they are very wise: Ants are not very strong, but they store up food in the summer. Rock badgers are not very powerful, but they can live among the rocks. Locusts have no king, but they all go forward in formation. Lizards can be caught in the hand, but they are found even in kings’ palaces. [vss 21-28]
There are three things that strut proudly, really four that walk as if they were important: a lion, the proudest animal, which is strong and runs from nothing, a rooster, a male goat, and a king when his army is around him. [vss 29-31]
(Proverbs 30:7-9, 15-16, 18-19, 21-28, 29-31 NCV) [Context– Proverbs 30]
Key phrase— Keep me from lying and being dishonest. And don’t make me either rich or poor.
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What strikes you about the way these lists of wise thoughts are expressed?
Do you see mostly contrasted thoughts or comparisons?
Which of these numbered lists resonates with you the most? Why is this?
Is there one expression, or thought, or one list that surprises you?
Why do you think these sayings would be put into lists this way?
When Proverbs was written, most people in the world could not read or write. It might surprise you, but this is still the case in many nations, even in North America. Many people are either non-literate, or partly literate, yet live in a literacy-based world.
Ancient wisdom writers and storytellers understood the need of most people, so writings were expressed in a way that made them memorable. The use of images (picture language), alliteration (same first letter of each line), and even-numbered lists are memory aids for nonreaders.
These things are even helpful to those who are highly literate. We think and speak in groups of words, especially when there's a clear association that connects them. Go back and read these verses again, and see how they are associated.
Make it personal...
Read through the Scripture text again to consider and answer the following questions
Do you have a love for the truth? Are you content with what you have?
What things are hard for you to understand in life? Are they mentioned in these verses?
What other things do you marvel at in life, and the world around you?
Are you able to trust God with the things you don't understand? If not, why not?