Monday, October 06, 2008

Proverbs 1:17-19

Proverbs 1:17-19
Pro 1:17 Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird.
Pro 1:18 And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives.
Pro 1:19 So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof.

This parable may be seen as a continuation of the previous one, or perhaps as a separate parable. The "they" in verse 17 is still the wicked. The format of this parable, however, is to show the foolishness of the wicked.

The "net" mentioned is a snare net used to catch birds in the era before shotguns. The point of verse 17 is to simply point out that if you set a trap for a bird while the bird is watching, it is not going to do any good. It's pointless or vain to waste your time on such an activity.

This foolishness is then compared to the even greater foolishness of the wicked. They are described as ambushing themselves. Not only do they know of the net that they are about to be snared in, they themselves set in place! This is the sort of activity that makes the Dodo look brilliant.

Notice how poetic paralleling is again used to reinforce the point of what it is that the wicked are doing:

they lay wait for || they lurk privily for

their own blood || their own lives.

Both laying wait for, and lurking privily for are descriptions of an ambush, and both "their own blood" and "their own lives" indicates murderous intent. They are their own assassins.

The parable concludes by identifying the wicked people mentioned. These are people who are "greedy of gain." In general, these are people who have avarice: they desire material wealth that is not already theirs, and this is their driving force. It's a suicidal urge.

We know that it is a suicidal urge, because of the way that the parable concludes: "which taketh away the life of the owners thereof." Material wealth can be like a poison. One doesn't normally see headlines like, "Man killed by wealth," and yet that is the effect that wealth can have on man.

In reading this verse in English, it seems like the verse may be speaking of people who are so greedy for gain, they kill people in order to get wealthy. This would go well with the idea that the previous parable and this parable are all one parable. Nevertheless, it seems that this is not what is intended, but instead the connection is to gain itself (את - eth) taking away the life of its owner.

In any event, the warning is clear: it is foolishness to listen to the call of avarice and greedily seek after wealth. A bird has the sense to avoid a trap that it sees being set for it, so also a man should have the sense to see that his quest for wealth is a trap for his own soul.

Original (Hebrew)
Proverbs 1:17-19
17 כי־חנם מזרה הרשׁת בעיני כל־בעל כנף׃
18 והם לדמם יארבו יצפנו לנפשׁתם׃
19 כן ארחות כל־בצע בצע את־נפשׁ בעליו יקח׃

LXX (Greek)
Proverbs 1:17-19
17οὐ γὰρ ἀδίκως ἐκτείνεται δίκτυα πτερωτοῖς. 18αὐτοὶ γὰρ οἱ φόνου μετέχοντες θησαυρίζουσιν ἑαυτοῖς κακά, ἡ δὲ καταστροφὴ ἀνδρῶν παρανόμων κακή. 19αὗται αἱ ὁδοί εἰσιν πάντων τῶν συντελούντων τὰ ἄνομα· τῇ γὰρ ἀσεβείᾳ τὴν ἑαυτῶν ψυχὴν ἀφαιροῦνται.

Vulgate (Latin)
Proverbs 1:17-19
17frustra autem iacitur rete ante oculos pinnatorum 18ipsique contra sanguinem suum insidiantur et moliuntur fraudes contra animas suas 19sic semitae omnis avari animas possidentium rapiunt


1 comment:

Anonymous said...


this phrase struck me right between the eyes as I read it this morning:::>[[they desire material wealth that is not already theirs,]]

The imbalance in the credit markets that is grabbing our pocket books today seems to be underscored by that thought.

Contrast that idea with these words of Scripture:::>

Psa 65:4 Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple!
Psa 65:5 By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas;
Psa 65:6 the one who by his strength established the mountains, being girded with might;
Psa 65:7 who stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples,
Psa 65:8 so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs. You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.
Psa 65:9 You visit the earth and water it; you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide their grain, for so you have prepared it.
Psa 65:10 You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth.
Psa 65:11 You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with abundance.
Psa 65:12 The pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy,
Psa 65:13 the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy.

For those who will work, God's creation produces a lot of work to do and plenty of rewards and prosperity and wealth.

A lazy man rolls over and just stuffs himself with God's food foolishly!

Pro 26:13 The sluggard says, "There is a lion in the road! There is a lion in the streets!"
Pro 26:14 As a door turns on its hinges, so does a sluggard on his bed.
Pro 26:15 The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; it wears him out to bring it back to his mouth.
Pro 26:16 The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly.