12Pride leads to destruction;
humility leads to honor.
13 It's stupid and embarrassing
to give an answer
before you listen.
14Being cheerful helps
when you are sick,
but nothing helps
when you give up.
15Everyone with good sense
wants to learn.
16A gift will get you in
to see anyone.
Again, this passage has five separate sayings which were not intended to present a single cohesive thought. And when you look at the sayings individually, you might be forgiven for thinking, “How did Solomon get such a reputation for wisdom?
It’s not that these proverbs aren’t wise, per se – it’s just that they’re so obvious. This is stuff everybody knows:
Humility is better than pride.
Best to listen before answering.
A positive attitude can overcome a lot.
It’s wise to want to learn.
A gift (in this instance, implying humility once again) can open doors that threats (or pride) won’t budge.
I know all this! Solomon didn’t have to tell me. And yet, I’m often not humble, don’t really listen before speaking, get cranky and contrary, resist learning things that will require me to change, and bluster instead of extending friendly grace.
Maybe the point is that these things we know don’t qualify as wisdom unless we actually practise them. Maybe true wisdom is simply acting consistently on what we already know to be true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent or praiseworthy. (See Philippians 4:8)
God, source of all knowledge, and Spirit, the breath of wisdom, you have planted seeds in our souls. Grow them, that we may act on what we know to be good; that we may become wise. In the name of the Son, who is knowledge and wisdom incarnate.