The essays required every week in this class suddenly took a turn for the worse. 500 words from now on! (I overshot and went to 600.) It’s a very boring topic but I tried to make it funny. :)
Proverbs one through seven primarily concentrate on two intertwined themes; sanctions and ethics. Ethics are the web of human morals that we act on every single day, telling us to be righteous and kind to others. In Proverbs, Solomon is teaching his son to obey ethics by providing various warnings and guidelines to accept. These instructions all follow the same railroad tracks, decreeing over and over again that wisdom is life and to act on anything other than wisdom will destroy the soul and forbid entrance to Heaven.
As the Proverbs proceed we learn that the path of wisdom is harder to follow than it was first made out to be. Work is required to build anything out of life and constructing wisdom is no exception to this rule. Hard though it may be, we all must act on our morals and strive to achieve this ultimate goal. But what happens if we don’t make it? What happens if we don’t even try? Not only will our wings be denied but a fork in the path will lead downwards on a slippery slope directly into hell’s stewpot. (Where pepper and salt will be added to make your eternally dammed souls taste juuuust right.) Sluggards and evildoers alike not only fall one thousand stories below, but we learn as the Proverbs continue that they actively bait and fishhook everyone they can lay their grubby little sinful fingers on. Now comes the kicker. What could possibly be tempting to the morally straight enough to put a kink in their tires and drag them into the ditch? Evil, portrayed as a woman in the Proverbs, reveals the answer to this enigma. The promise of material pleasures appeal to everyone on some level. As animals and descendants of Adam and Eve, the first sinners, how could it not? You have to bathe in sweat to hoist yourself out of that rut. Acquiring wisdom is difficult as the Proverbs teach us.
Sanctions begin to filter into the pages of the bible much more extravagantly at this point. Using a couple committing adultery as a metaphor, the Proverbs show how evil lures with false promises and a mask of beauty to tempt the morally straight. Solomon, still warning his son, spends an exorbitant amount of time addressing adultery as a major cause of negative sanctions. For example, in Proverbs 5:1-12, “My son, pay attention to my wisdom…so that your lips may guard knowledge. Take no notice of a loose-living woman, for the lips of the adulteress drip with honey…but in the end she is…sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death, Sheol the goal of her steps…and at your ending, your body and flesh having been consumed, you will groan and exclaim, ‘Alas, I hated discipline, my heart spurned all correction…”And again he nags in Proverbs 7:10-27, “And look, a woman is coming to meet him, dressed like a prostitute, false of heart…do not let your heart stray into her ways, or wander into her paths, she has done so many to death…Her house is the way to Sheol, the descent to the courts of death.” Solomon loves to use the metaphor of sins of the flesh for the Devil, Sheol, and the temptation of evil he offers.
Ethics and sanctions are intertwined very closely in the Proverbs, explaining how good choices will be rewarded and choices swayed by evil will be cause for negative sanctions (like getting tossed into hell after being robbed by fellow thieves and left to rot by the roadside). In truth, the book of Proverbs is an instruction manual that earns you a boarding pass on the Hot Rod to Heaven.