June 11th 2018 – Proverbs 12:1-4

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
    but he who hates reproof is stupid.
A good man obtains favour from the Lord,
    but a man of evil devices he condemns.
No one is established by wickedness,
    but the root of the righteous will never be moved.
An excellent wife is the crown of her husband,
    but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones.

Proverbs 12:1-4

Again, in 1, the emphasis is on teachability. The RSV has 'discipline' in place of the AV's 'instruction ', rightly indicating that in Proverbs 'instruction' and 'wisdom' often contain this thought. It is, moreover, an ongoing work: we are never in the position of having 'arrived'. Indeed, one of the marks of wisdom is one's willingness - and the consciousness of the need to accept the continuing disciplines of the Word. The word 'brutish' suggests an insensitiveness to this need. The contrast in 2 and 3 is between the life that is rooted and grounded in God, and the rootlessness and shiftlessness of life apart from Him. There is another suggestion here (as we have seen in previous chapters) of the inherent stability of evil, and the self-destructive quality in it. This is the kind of contrast illustrated in Psalm 1 (which see). The introduction of the 'virtuous woman' in 4 is perhaps significant in this context, as if to suggest the enormous influence for good that a true woman can have on the shiftlessness of a weak man's life. 'Virtuous' means not only chaste, but contains the idea of strength and all other good and noble qualities, The use of the word 'crown' is also significant, for in Scripture it is not ordinarily used in a decorative sense, but as the symbol of authority. What is being said is not so much that a good woman is an ornament to her husband, adorning his home and his life - although this is true - but that she adds authority to his life by helping and enabling him to be all that he can be and ought to be as a man. Conversely there is a significance in the use of the word 'rottenness' that is more than merely metaphorical. What happens when bones rot? For one thing, a man cannot stand upright, and what is meant here is that a woman that causes shame robs a man of his ability to function as a man. That is enough to be pondering for one day!