We continue reading and meditating on Solomon’s Proverbs; if all the people in Israel had put his precepts into practice surely his kingdom would have continued to be a great and righteous kingdom for “a great while” (2 Samuel 18:9) after his death. Sadly the history of the generations that followed shows that was not so. Healthy spiritual life centred on worship at the temple he had built in Jerusalem, but this began to falter and although there were excellent times during the reigns of good kings, the spiritual commitment of the nation steadily withered away.
There is a comparison to when the Bible was first printed in the 16th and 17th Centuries, becoming increasingly available for all to read – what a reformation it brought about! But since then there has been a downhill slide and today it seems we are at the very bottom of the hill. Is it time for God to act? His word makes it clear that He will.
Some of today’s proverbs in chapter 11 make us think how good and harmonious life would be if they were widely practiced. “With the humble is wisdom. The integrity of the upright guides them” (verses 2,3). “The righteousness of the blameless keeps his ways straight” (verse 5). “The righteous is delivered from trouble, and the wicked walks into it instead” (verse 8). In contrast, “with his mouth the godless man would destroy his neighbour” (verse 9), but then comes the comment, “but by knowledge the righteous are delivered”. It is not difficult to see what kind of knowledge is meant!
Today there is a lack of Bible inspired wisdom. Life has become increasingly uncertain – especially in some parts of the world. Our final thought comes from verse 30, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life …”. This takes us back to thinking of “the tree of life” in the garden of Eden from which Adam and Eve were barred, and then to Revelation 2:7. Those who truly follow the way of Christ, guided by integrity, will have “great joy and (be) continually in the Temple blessing God” which are the concluding words in Luke’s Gospel we read today.
Imagine a greater joy in the Temple to come! Let us make our lives full of God inspired integrity becoming soberly aware of what Peter wrote, “… if necessary you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold … may be found to result in praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ … and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible” (1 Peter 1:6-8).