Proverbs 30:15-16

The leech has two daughters:
    Give and Give.
Three things are never satisfied;
    four never say, “Enough”:
16 Sheol, the barren womb,
    the land never satisfied with water,
    and the fire that never says, “Enough.”

Proverbs 30:15-16 ESV

In this passage, Agur uses the image of a leech to describe a negative characteristic or trait of a self-absorbed person; the person who only says, “Give me.” For this person, enough is never enough. “Give me,” he says. For this person, the focus is always self. “Give me,” he says. For this person the needs or supply of another is of no consequence. “Give me,” he says.

To make his point more clear, Agur uses a few more images of things that are never satisfied: the grave, the barren womb; the land in drought; and a fire.

The point: Don’t be like the leech. Don’t always say, “Give me.”

Proverbs 27:3

A stone is heavy, and sand is weighty,

    but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both.

Proverbs 27:3 ESV

My grandpa used to trick us kids by asking, “Which is heavier a 100 pound bag of feathers or a 100 pound bag of rocks?” Our automatic answer was “The rocks are heavier!” We were ticked because even as children we knew that rocks are heavier than feathers. Of course, we didn’t catch the additional information that indicated both weighed 100 pounds. The reason we didn’t catch that is because the image of a rock and feather side-by-side is so overwhelmingly obvious. The rock is heavier. No doubt about it.

Here, the writer uses two images that immediately connect with the reader. Who among us doesn’t know the heaviness of stones or sand? We all get it. What may shock the reader is that the fool’s anger or wrath is heavier than either stones or sand. But this is not something that can be verified on scales. It’s not as if you can ask the fool to put his anger on the scales to see how much it weighs.

The writer uses the metaphor to make the point of the weightiness of the anger of a fool. Let that sink in. Once that is settled, begin to figure out what is folly. Then, avoid that path.

Proverbs 26:4-5

Answer not a fool according to his folly,

    lest you be like him yourself.

Answer a fool according to his folly,

    lest he be wise in his own eyes.

Proverbs 26:4-5

These two verses demonstrate the frustration and complication of dealing with a fool. They also demonstrate the range of meaning of words. Here, the pivotal word is “according to.” The first verse means don’t become like the fool by talking in his ways. This reminds me of the saying, “Don’t get into the mud to wrestle with a pig. First, you will just get muddy. Second, the pig will enjoy it.” Guard yourself so that you don’t become a fool in the process of dealing with a fool.

The second verse demonstrates the pastoral heart of the writer. Here, he means, “Deal with the fool’s ideas, so that he is not mistaken that his ideas are wise.” We should try to never leave a fool under the mistaken notion that their folly is wisdom. But, we must be careful in how we do this.

Proverbs 23:6-7

Do not eat the bread of a man who is stingy;
    do not desire his delicacies,
for he is like one who is inwardly calculating.
    “Eat and drink!” he says to you,
    but his heart is not with you.

Proverbs 23:6-7 ESV

Beware of transactional relationships. In this scenario, the stingy man is offering his food and drink, “but his heart is not with you.” He is “inwardly calculating” what he can get out of offering you food and drink. He is not generous, he’s manipulative.

The warning should be considered bi-directional. In other words, don’t be the perpetrator or the victim in this type of scenario. When you offer your resources to others, do you generally do it for the sake of what you can get in return? If others offer you their resources, are you so greedy to get stuff that you can’t recognize that you are being manipulated for the other person’s gain?

Beware of the transactional relationship.

Proverbs 22:1

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,

    and favor is better than silver or gold.

Proverbs 22:1 ESV

This verse challenges our cultural norms. A culture that is given to riches (a materialism) has a difficult time grasping the idea that something immaterial, like a good name, is more valuable. Unless that good name can create some material benefit, i.e., more riches.

Here, the reader stands at a crossroad, examining two worldviews; one says materialism is most important (e.g., “He who dies with the most toys wins.”), and the other says immaterial things like character and integrity and holiness and love are most important. This junction seems to be ever-present in Proverbs. For example,

Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity,

than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.

Proverbs 28:6 ESV

Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth,

or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.

Proverbs 22:6

Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity

than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool.

Proverbs 19:1 ESV

Each of us must choose this day, and every day, which path we will travel. Proverbs offers a clear picture of what lies at the end of each path. So, … which path will you choose today?

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