Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

One of my favourite Bible books as a kid was Proverbs.

It’s not hard to figure out why. Most of it appears fairly up-front and easy to ‘get.’

Reading it over the past month, I found that I had to take it all in a completely different way to the rest of the Bible. With this one I found that I was reading each verse separately, and pausing afterwards to let it sink in. Not a conscious decision, just the result of encountering so many apparently unconnected ideas one after the other like that.

Most of the time I read my Good News Bible, mainly because it’s small and easy to carry about with me, but occasionally, when I have the chance, I dip into any other translation that’s easily to hand, and often it’s like reading a completely different book.

Proverbs 10:10:

Someone who holds back the truth causes trouble, but one who openly criticizes works for peace.

He who winks maliciously causes grief, and a chattering fool comes to ruin.

Often some sort of parallel meaning can be found however, but it’s always fun to suddenly dive into the modern Message version…

Proverbs 25:16:

Have you found honey? Eat only what you need,
That you not have it in excess and vomit it.

When you're given a box of candy, don't gulp it all down;
eat too much chocolate and you'll make yourself sick;

Top marks though, whatever the translation, have to go to the whole of chapter 30. The reason I’ve been reading this book is because there’s tons of the Bible that I’ve never touched, so I’m currently working my way through reading all the books that I know I’ve never read completely. When I got to it, Proverbs chapter 30 was completely new to me and, I have to say, utterly fascinating…

15 "The leech has two daughters.
'Give! Give!' they cry.
"There are three things that are never satisfied,
four that never say, 'Enough!':

16 the grave, the barren womb,
land, which is never satisfied with water,
and fire, which never says, 'Enough!'

17 "The eye that mocks a father,
that scorns obedience to a mother,
will be pecked out by the ravens of the valley,
will be eaten by the vultures.

18 "There are three things that are too amazing for me,
four that I do not understand:

19 the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a snake on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
and the way of a man with a maiden.

20 "This is the way of an adulteress:
She eats and wipes her mouth
and says, 'I've done nothing wrong.'

Or as The Message version puts it:

15-16 A leech has twin daughters
named "Gimme" and "Gimme more."

Three things are never satisfied,
no, there are four that never say, "That's enough, thank you!"—
a barren womb,
a parched land,
a forest fire.

17 An eye that disdains a father
and despises a mother— that eye will be plucked out by wild vultures
and consumed by young eagles.

18-19 Three things amaze me,
no, four things I'll never understand—
how an eagle flies so high in the sky,
how a snake glides over a rock,
how a ship navigates the ocean,
why adolescents act the way they do.

20 Here's how a prostitute operates:
she has sex with her client, Takes a bath,
then asks, "Who's next?"


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