Daily Wisdom

Meditations on the Book of Proverbs

21 “Under three things the earth trembles,

   under four it cannot bear up:

22 a servant who becomes king,

   a godless fool who gets plenty to eat,

23 a contemptible woman who gets married,

   and a servant who displaces her mistress.


 These four things may not challenge the human convention of a given time, but that does not make them viable. The earth and everything in it follows a higher order, regardless of human opinion. We may believe that anything is possible – but experience suggests otherwise – as reality has a way of resolving incongruities. Each of these things sows the seeds of disaster, which apart from wise intervention is sure to come.


 “A servant who becomes king, a godless fool who gets plenty to eat.” There is far more to kingship than the title. The servant may fancy that he could do a better job, and jump at the opportunity to claim such a title, but in reality the pressures and responsibilities would be far too much for him to bear. The well fed fool, who by all appearances is quite happy, is never as satisfied as he appears. Having no necessity to overcome his folly, he is overcome by it, so he squanders opportunities and leaves a trail of wreckage in his wake.


 “A contemptible woman who gets married, and a servant who displaces her mistress.” Marriage vows are of no use without the character needed to honor them. The contemptible woman may fantasize about her wedding, and imagine that marriage will finally fulfill her, but she does nothing to prepare herself for the commitment she so easily makes. What but disaster can come from this blend of high expectations and low self-awareness?  

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