21There are three or four things
that make the earth tremble
and are unbearable:
22A slave who becomes king,
a fool who eats too much,
23a hateful woman
who finds a husband,
and a slave who takes the place
of the woman who owns her.
In reading the description of the above people and their actions, what strikes us first of all is the fact that these situations are in no way normal. Yet, they call to mind situations that we may have noticed around us.
The slave who becomes a king could possibly be a co-worker, a fellow employee who because of privileged treatment plus an important promotion, now sees himself as the new, uncontested boss-king and quite naturally begins lording it over his fellow workers! A stupid man who eats too much may represent someone who has an exaggerated opinion of himself. He views himself as better or as a cut higher than others and as a result may treat others in an abusive way.
An unloved, unbearable woman who finally succeeds in getting married could possibly be that person who constantly has a bad attitude toward everybody. This person appears to be locked in a permanent “criticizing mode” and no one can seem to find the key that will release her. A servant who takes the place of her mistress by force reminds us of that type of person who wants it all and who would not hesitate crushing others on the way, as long as it served his or her purposes.
The author of this proverb points out that these are all unbearable situations that lead to disruption, problems and wounds wherever they occur. The apostle Paul warns us not be become like these people when he urges us to live with humility and clothe ourselves with simplicity, putting the interests of other people before our own . . . to actually consider others
more important than ourselves! (Philippians 2:3-4).
Each one of us could and maybe should examine our relationship with others. It would help us to look at these words in the Bible as if we were looking into a mirror. Here’s the question: Are we conducting ourselves according to the apostle Paul’s injunctions or are we displaying tendencies that are more like those portrayed in this proverb?
Lord, thank you for the word that, like a mirror, reveals who I am. I want to allow you to transform me by your Spirit, so that I may become more and more like you. Amen.