Sunday, July 1, 2012

Proverbs 11.23-27 Kindness Pays

11.23-27 Kindness Pays Chiasmus
"Verses 23 and 27 form a frame around this subunit.  They are yoked together by the catchword tob "good" (vv. 23a, 27a) and by the generalizations about the topic of desires and their paradoxical fulfillment."     ---Bruce Waltke in NICOT
These five verses seem to form a chiasmus with verse 25 at the center enforcing the them of this section.
23a                                  23b  But
The desire                               the expectation                                       A   desire/expectation
of the righteous                     of the wicked
is only good,                          is wrath. 
cf. 10.28
23a    Heb “the desire of the righteous.” The noun תַּאֲוַת (taavat) functions as an objective genitive: “what the righteous desire.”       ---NET Bible translation notes
23a   Only highlights "an unexpected conclusion"   ---IBHS in Waltke; Proverbs NICOT    p.506
23wrath...    "The wrath the wicked hoped to inflict on others comes on them.  They hoped for prosperity by overthrowing others, but they are rewarded instead with God's wrath.  ...the use of the word and the parallel "good" suggests God's wrath, not human annoyance until anger is in view."  ---Bruce Waltke in NICOT   
24a                                 24b  And
There is one                           there is one
who scatters                           who withholds                                      B   scatters/withholds
- - - - - -     ,                              more than is right,
yet increases more;               But it leads to poverty. 
24one who scatters...   'The verb one who scatters occurs nine times in the Bible with the sense "to throw widely, loosely, and freely about."  ---Bruce Waltke in NICOT      
24is right...   ""what is right" (i.e. the "good" that benefits life, see v.23) should be supplied from the parallel, debunking the notion that the proverb affirms any big spender."
24leads to poverty...    "Heb “comes to lack.” The person who withholds will come to the diminishing of his wealth. The verse uses hyperbole to teach that giving to charity does not make anyone poor, and neither does refusal to give ensure prosperity."      ---NET Bible translation notes
25a                                    25b  And
The generous soul                   he who waters                                         C   generous/waters
will be made rich,                    will also be watered himself.  
25  "two images: "fat" from the realm of animal husbandry and "drench" from the realm of horticulture.  The double image functions to underscore the certainty..."   ---Bruce Waltke in NICOT    
25generous soul...  "...person (lit. soul) of blessing, the one who dispenses kindness, beneficence."   ---Toy in ICC
25made rich...   Heb lit. "made fat" ---  "connotes wealth, abundance, full satisfaction, and health (cf. Deut. 31.20).  It is used for the refreshing of the bones in a parallel to the rejoicing of the heart in Prlv. 15.30."     ---Bruce Waltke in NICOT    
25he who waters...  "...implies a parched land in need of water, an implicit comparison to the poor and needy."  ---Bruce Waltke in NICOT    

26a                                     26b  But
The people                                
will curse                                   blessing will be
him                                              on the head of him
who withholds grain,             who sells it.                                            B'  withholds/sells
26a  curse...  "Fundamentally, it means to "to bore through"/"pierce" (2 K. 12.9[10]), which was expanded to "to prick" and so "to designate," "to distinguish," and thus designate as "bad," with which meaning it becomes a "curse."       ---Bruce Waltke in NICOT
26a withholds ...   "refers to the trader who holds back from sail life's subsistence, exploiting the need of others to advantage himself."      ---Bruce Waltke in NICOT
"Allusion to the practice of hoarding grain in seasons of scarcity in order to sell it at a high price."   ---Toy in ICC
26a  grain...  " It symbolizes life's necessities, not luxuries, and a synecdoche for all the produce from the fields, orchards, and gardens that supported Israel's life and economy."    ---Bruce Waltke in NICOT

27a                                       27b  But
He who                                  2)  to him
earnestly seeks good         3)  who seeks evil.                                      A'  seeks/seeks
finds favor,                            1)  trouble will come 
"Good and evil are better taken in a wide sense, as embracing moral (as in Am. 5.14) and general conditions (as in 3.27,29; 13.21; Eccl. 2.8), and as describing the man's conduct toward others."    ---Toy in ICC 
"The synonyms for seeking, both of which connote energetic activity to fulfill desires, show that the benevolent serve the needy out of the desires of the heart, not our of duress, self-interest, or hypocrisy.  Moreover, they are pious because they seek God's favor, thought they win human applause.  The proverb admonishes its audience to be like Jesus, who went about doing good...  The truth, "seek, and you will find," takes on a new meaning: what you seek for others, you will find for yourself (cf. Matt. 6.33: 7.7)."       ---Bruce Waltke in NICOT
 In Charles Dicken's classic A Christmas Carole, the following dialogue between Scrooge and Marley  illustrate these Proverbs.
Jacob Marley: In life, my spirit never rose beyond the limits of our money-changing holes! Now I am doomed to wander without rest or peace, incessant torture and remorse!
Ebenezer: But it was only that you were a good man of business, Jacob!
Jacob Marley: BUSINESS? Mankind was my business! Their common welfare was my business! And it is at this time of the rolling year that I suffer most!  

Most families have their children help with choirs to maintain the household.  It is there part to contribute toward the upkeep and mission of the home.  If we are generous and benevolent people in the way that these proverbs indicate we should, then we should also involve our children in that work as well--teaching them the values that prompt our generosity and benevolent actions to those in need as we go along.

These proverbs also raise the question "How much is enough?"  "When does prudent provision become selfish hoarding?"  I don't know of a simple rule that defines our minimum responsibility, but there is a definite heart described in these proverbs that we should aspire to.

How much money is enough to adequately provide for ourselves and how much should be give?  What are the concrete things that we can do with our kids to instill that mindset and heart in them?

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