Today’s Chocolate: Green & Black’s Organic Milk Chocolate with Almonds
Today’s Passage: Proverbs 4:10-19
God’s Little Instruction Book is taking us back to Proverbs today, but unlike the past two forays into the Nation of Proverbia, this verse isn’t a stand-alone saying with no necessary connection to its neighbors. It’s part of a larger admonition from Solomon to a person he calls “my son,” encouraging him to pursue wisdom and eschew evil. That’s right: it’s context time.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Of all the verses in Proverbs 4:10-19, which one is today’s verse from God’s Little Instruction Book? It’s Proverbs 4:13: “Take hold of instruction; do not let go. Guard her, for she is your life.” And hey, why don’t we kick things off with a visit to Strong’s Concordance, ’cause that’s our style? “Instruction” here is the Hebrew מוּסָר, muwcar, which doesn’t just mean gettin’ told knowledge of how to do stuff. Look at these other possible translations: “discipline, chastening, correction.” It’s restraint. It’s what keeps you from pursuing bad ideas, and when you do pursue bad ideas, it’s what gets you back on track.
And sure enough, while the passage began by singing the desirability of wisdom, it quickly turns to a warning about bad company. Solomon instructs his either-literal-or-figurative son: “Do not enter the path of the wicked and do not proceed in the way of evil men” (14). The wicked have a soul road, as it were. Their soul road involves tripping others up, eating the bread of wickedness, and drinking the wine of violence (16-17). The passage doesn’t tell us where their soul road ends, but the road is rife with darkness and stumbling. It’s not a good road.
One characteristic of this road particularly arrests my attention. Verse 16 states: “For they cannot sleep unless they do evil, and they are robbed of sleep unless they make someone stumble.” Now, I like my sleep. I hate being unable to sleep or getting fewer than six hours of sleep a night, and over the past fifteen years, I’ve developed my sleeping skills considerably, even gaining the ability to nap that eluded me throughout my childhood and adolescence. So it’s baffling to me that a person would rather commit, say, fraud or murder than sleep. Yet the wicked are restless if they don’t get their evil in. I imagine them tossing and turning in bed, saying to themselves: “Man, I can’t get to sleep tonight if I don’t do a theft.” Who are these people?
But I digress. The point is that wisdom, knowledge, and the facts of reality come down on the side of integrity and righteousness. And I’m not about to paint a naive picture of the world here. If you pursue wisdom and embrace correction, you may not be free from the violence and deceit of evil men. But you’ll be free from the violence and deceit of being an evil person.
Doing wrong doesn’t just harm others. It’s a crime you commit against yourself.