Eat Your Peas! Wisdom from the Book of Proverbs.
Preparing for Trinity Sunday: Three Days before Sunday (Year C)
Psalter: Psalm 8
Old Testament: Proverbs 3:13-18
Epistle: Ephesians 1:17-19
Holy, holy, holy God, fill us with strength and courage, with discernment and compassion, that we may be your instruments of justice and love in this world, that it may be on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.
Happy are those who find wisdom, and those who get understanding, for her income is better than silver, and her revenue better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called happy (Proverbs 3:13-18).
Actually, my mother never had to tell me to eat my peas at dinner because I love peas. In fact, it is one of my favorite vegetables; but mothers all over the world have and continue to instill such proverbs in their children.
A proverb is “a short, memorable, and often highly condensed saying embodying, esp with bold imagery, some commonplace fact or experience.” Every culture and people employ them in daily wisdom. It seems that we human beings benefit from such simple and direct wisdom because we have a tendency to complicate the obvious. So, the wise sage who wrote the book of Proverbs gives us some brief, but nourishing food for thought in straightforward fashion.
“My child, if sinners entice you, do not consent.” (1:10)
“...walk in the way of the good, and keep to the paths of the just.” (2:20)
“Do not quarrel with anyone without cause, when no harm has been done to you.” (3:30)
“Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you.” (4:24)
“Give instruction to the wise, and they will become wiser still; teach the righteous and they will gain in learning.” (9:9)
“Doing wrong is like sport to a fool, but wise conduct is pleasure to a person of understanding.” (10:23)
“Whoever belittles another lacks sense, but an intelligent person remains silent.” (11:12)
“Fools show their anger at once, but the prudent ignore an insult.” (12:16)
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” (14:34)
The book of Proverbs provides straightforward common sense to human beings who find that we too often lack such wisdom. It’s not conventional wisdom as much as wisdom that challenges convention—”the one who dies with the most toys wins,” “Look out for #1.” Proverbs calls us to the disciplined life, the moderating life, the deliberative life, the life of thoughtfulness and consideration.
The proverbial life is the life of the wise, so take heed of the Proverbs... and don’t forget to eat your peas.