Some sayings have divergent or fleeting relevance. Others, however, command our attention all the way through life. The latter are “power proverbs”.
The “power-proverbs” within the biblical collection known as Proverbs stand classically through the ages, tall and content to admonish all who pass by. These tall cedars do not just tower so we would cower; they usher to us a gentle though persistent message for power in life.
Take for instance:
“A person who will not bend after many warnings will suddenly be broken beyond repair.”
~Proverbs 29:1 (GW).
We can now readily see that such a power-proverb leaves a resounding message within us and it affects how we subsequently interact with life. We’re not likely to be so keen to embrace our stubbornness as we continue reflecting on this one above.
Likewise, what could be considered a concluding quatrain in the initial chapter casts both bright and stark imagery before the reader:
“For waywardness kills the simple, and the complacency of fools destroys them; but those who listen to [Wisdom] will be secure and will live at ease, without dread of disaster.”
~Proverbs 1:32-33 (NRSV).
Other proverbs encompass powerful portions of truth, for instance:
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”
~Proverbs 4:23 (KJV).
This is an astoundingly comprehensive proverb—one that echoes through our eternal souls as we partake in the “issuing” of life. The fact that the heart is the “source,” or otherwise the “wellspring,” of our lives is as profound a truth as any of us will ever know, certainly as far as the exercise of practical living is concerned.
Perhaps we’re beginning to see here the resolute breadth of stead that the power-proverb commands in and through life.
The Imagery in Some Power-Proverbs
There is another great example of the proverbial power we’re framing up here. The sextet in verses 9-11 of chapter six talks about laziness against diligence. The power in this set thrusts an image into the forefront of our minds that should compel us to live our lives a certain way—to not sleep all our lives, but to get up early enough to prepare for our days, for instance.
Another example is Proverbs 16:1, a saying with many parallels speaking similarly of its wisdom. We have our plans, yet the reply of the tongue—i.e. the way life works out—comes from the Lord.
Just about every proverb—or set of proverbs—from chapter ten onwards has power about it. The first nine chapters share an introductory or preparatory flow, as an overall imperative to the young student of Wisdom.
And, of course, it has to be acknowledged; one person’s power-proverb is not another’s and vice versa. The Lord has blessed us all with the ability to have our own perceptions and unique viewpoints on things—and different ones that are perfectly qualifiable.
Blessed are those who select their power-proverbs and allow that particular wisdom to permeate their lives.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.