I finished Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. I actually enjoyed Ecclesiastes. Proverbs, well, let’s just say that for the most part I feel the same way I always have. Some of Solomon’s sardonic humor came through this time. Funny how reading them in a different version can make all the difference in how I feel about them.
Take this little gem from Proverbs 20. In the NKJV, it says: Diverse weights and diverse measures, they are both alike, an abomination to the Lord (Prov. 20:10). It never made any sense to me before. It seemed locked in the time period of the Old Testament world. We don’t live in a marketplace/agrarian society anymore. We don’t bargain for our goods. We don’t weigh out our payments. It’s all cold hard cash or plastic.
But the NLT says this: False weights and unequal measures – the Lord detests double standards of any kind. That I understand! It was like a light went on. If you know Proverbs at all, you know that most of the time each verse is a separate verse or axiom. It doesn’t necessarily tie into anything else. In the vernacular of our times, “It is what it is.” It’s a wise statement to be taken like a little gold nugget, pocketed and treasured.
How does this apply to us today? Double standards abound. Let’s sample just one. Women aren’t allowed to look old, for the most part. Helen Mirren and Dame Judy Dench aside, women continue to be encouraged to stay looking young. Forever. But Proverbs 20:29 says: The glory of young men is their strength, and the splendor of old men is their gray head. Even better in the NLT (too much obvious favoritism?): The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old. In light of the NLT version, I have a ton of wisdom! Why cover the gray, when it so obviously shows forth all I have gleaned by painful experience in this life? Besides, the upkeep! Oy.
Gray hair, far from being a symbol of mortality, is part of respecting your elders in the Biblical culture. But still the ancient people felt the end of their days nearing. The NLT version of Psalm 71:18 states: Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God. Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me. This is something all of us of a certain age can do, men or women. Our wisdom and accumulated life journey has worth if we can pass it on to our children and others who are younger than ourselves.
So I say, seek out the gray-haired ones and get wisdom. And those of us who are older, let’s celebrate it instead of trying to be 20 again. Ecclesiastes and Proverbs both advise the readers to “get knowledge and get understanding”. Don’t be stupid. Us older folks have something to offer you. Don’t run after every whim when Ecclesiastes 1:10 says: Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” but actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new. Fashions get recycled. High school cliques go by different names and faces but contain the same type of people, longing to belong. Some of us have been there and done that already. We can help. We are walking wisdom books, in a sense, waiting to be opened.