Daily Wisdom

Meditations on the Book of Proverbs

26 A wise king winnows out the wicked;

   he drives the threshing wheel over them.

27 The human spirit is the lamp of the Lord

   that sheds light on one’s inmost being.


 Here the wise king exemplifies all four of the classical virtues of prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude. It is not easy to oppose the wicked, to choose justice over convenience in the face of furious opposition. But he has the prudence to see that it will only get more difficult with time. He exercises temperance in all of his affairs, so that his enemies have nothing with which to assassinate his character, keeping himself above reproach. He is steadfast in the face of intimidation, exemplifying the courage and perseverance of fortitude. His fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom, protects him from the fear of all other things.

 “The human spirit is the lamp of the Lord that sheds light on one’s inmost being.” The gift of conscience, through which we receive illumination and by which we see into ourselves, is a remarkable thing. A man may turn his mind against the Lord, and also his body and will, but it is not so easy to usurp the conscience. “These, then, are the two points i wanted to make. First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in.”

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