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Proverbs: Choice and Discernment, the Two Ways of Living

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Proverbs: Choice and Discernment, the Two Ways of Living

In studying the book of Proverbs there is a similar theme of choice and discernment, the teachings of decision-making and the repercussions of your actions. These books are made up of extremes and polar opposites. The dualisms are the rich and poor, the righteous and the wicked, and the wise and the foolish. There is advice given and it is up to the judgment of the person to which category they will fall into. There are two ways of living, and based on the person's discernment and ultimate choice to which one they will get to live.

This paper will focus on Proverbs 10, 12, and 14, Solomon's Proverbs, to display this theme of choice and discernment. Proverb 10 is an antithetical parallelism, because the second line is opposite of the first. This passage is both observational and didactic. Some of the passages are subtle entities and some are teachings that promote an ideal. " Wise children make their fathers proud of them; foolish ones bring their mothers grief" (10:1). This first passage is very simple; if you are wise, then you will be good to your parents, the teaching is, do not be foolish. The next passage has great insight, "wealth you get by dishonesty will do you no good, but honesty can save your life" (10:2). This passage is an ellipsis because it leaves out detail to how exactly honesty can save your life, but it will do you more good than being dishonest. You will be rewarded for choosing to act wisely. "The Lord will not let good people go hungry, but he will keep the wicked from getting what they want" (10:3). This passage shows the world as a just world, that God/dess will keep things even keel, even though this is not the case. Things are unfair sometimes, and using observation on personal life experiences, bad things can happen to good people. Although this passage does teach that if you choose to be good, you will be taken care of, and if you choose to be wicked you will not always get what you want. There are two choices here on how to live, good or wicked, and good judgment would be choosing to be good. It encourages again the need for right decision making. These passages lack emotion; they are just a steady flow of advice. They speak of retribution; you will get what's coming to you. If you choose to be lazy, you will be poor and not achieve any status, if you choose to work hard, you will come into wealth. "Honest people are safe and secure, but the dishonest will be caught" (10:9). This would be an observational saying because it is obvious that you cannot be caught if you have chosen to never do anything wrong. These are simple teachings, if you make the decision to behave, good things will come to you. Also, if you make the decision to be a good person, good things will come out of you. "Righteous people know the kind things to say, but the wicked are always saying things that hurt" (10:32). This is also an observation or confession, advice that is based on personal experiences. These passages focus on human's interactions with each other. "[Proverbs] is mostly concerned with advice about relationships in different areas of life". Your personal life, and your relationships with others will prosper if you use good judgment and make the decisions to be wise, hardworking, and righteous.

Proverb 12 is also an antithetical parallelism. The admonition tends to be positive, these are advices; do this, rather than, don't do that. "Wickedness does not give security, but righteous people stand firm" (12:3). There is no true foundation for those who chose to be wicked, nothing stable for them to grasp onto. "The condition of the wicked man is impermanent and uncertain, whereas the righteous man cannot be torn from the ground in which he is deeply rooted". Having the keen insight to make the decision to be righteous will protect you; you can feel secure with where you are and who you are. "A good wife is her husband's pride and joy; but a wife who brings shame on her husband is like a cancer in his bones" (12:4). The passage is most explicit to what will actually happen if a man chooses the wrong kind of wife. He will greatly suffer if his judgment was bad on whom to marry, he will experience physical ailments. If the man uses wisdom in making the decision to marry a capable wife, he will be rewarded for acting wisely. "If you are lazy, you will never get what you are after, but if you work hard, you will get a fortune" (12:27). This passage shows that the repercussions to your decisions can be very bountiful. If you make the right decision to work hard and not be lazy, you will come into wealth and get what you are after in life. "Retribution is not an entirely satisfactory term, however, for the English word connotes punishment rather than reward, and immediate rather than gradual consequences". This passage is showing that there is not just consequences, there are rewards for discernment, and God/dess will provide those to you. Again, this Proverb is about choosing which way of life suits you; in all cases, having better judgment and being righteous will always bring you a better life, and be profitable.

Proverb 14 continues to address this dualistic approach on advice. "Homes are made by the wisdom of women, but are destroyed by foolishness" (14:1). This passage is very interesting because



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