1 The proverbs of Solomon:
A wise son brings joy to his father,
but a foolish son brings grief to his mother.
2 Ill-gotten treasures have no lasting value,
but righteousness delivers from death.
3 The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry,
but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.
Chapters one through seven were the Father’s teachings, eight and nine were allegories of wisdom personified, and now we begin in chapter ten the proverbs of Solomon for which this book is known.
Proverbs are observations, meant to teach us wisdom by emphasizing patterns and distinctions. They are not absolute statements, as the simple would like to read them. Simplifications take the place of thinking and discernment; the very skills proverbs are meant to sharpen. These wise sayings do not tell us what to think, they inspire us to become better thinkers.
“A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son brings grief to his mother.” Fathers and mothers are equal in many ways, but that does not make them the same. Does the wise son bring joy to his mother too? Perhaps a mother’s love finds joy in her children regardless of whether they are wise. But the father especially loves to see his children live wisely, because the father sees himself as responsible for teaching them wisdom.
“Ill-gotten treasures have no lasting value, but righteousness delivers from death.” This gives as a glimpse of the long term. The future is an important thing to consider, because one day it will be the present. Lying, cheating and stealing may get you what you thought you wanted in the short term, but the value doesn’t last. Dishonesty may get you treasure, but what good is treasure without self respect? It is right behavior in the present, truthfulness even when it costs you, that frees your future self from the misery of regret.
“The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.” The simple mind, thinking only of food, immediately thinks of exceptions. Tens of millions of people were starved to death in the twentieth century, does this mean they were somehow unrighteous? And their murderers, some of history’s most wicked, rarely missed a meal. But food is not the only thing the righteous hunger for, and it is not the only thing the wicked crave. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,” a very wise man once said, “for they will be filled.”