Digging Deeper in Proverbs #3: Contrast and Comparison


Digging Deeper into Proverbs #3

Hebrews 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

Contrast is at the root of all perception. Touch requires being able to distinguish textures and pressures. Taste requires the ability to distinguish between sweet and sour. The nose must be able to tell what is fragrant, and what is acrid. The ear between loud and soft, on pitch, below it or above it, and between different pitches. Sight requires singling out light and dark, colors and shades. The keener the senses the greater the ability to make distinctions. Hence Proverbs is shot thru with contrasts and comparisons.

As mentioned before, the word “proverb” in our Bibles comes from the Hebrew word Proverbs – “mashal” which means: COMPARISON. Throughout the book are a series of repeated contrasts and comparisons, designed to inform and train our soul’s senses in perceiving truth accurately:

The Fool vs. The Wise

The Naïve vs. The Prudent

The Simple vs. The Discerning

The Sluggard vs. The Diligent

The Sinner vs. The Saint

The Sensual vs. The Spiritual

The Ungodly vs. The Godly

The Proud vs. The Humble

The Immature vs. The Mature

As Hebrews 5:14 notes, these perceptive abilities can be trained and enable the mature person to better distinguish good and evil. Proverbs presents and repeats this base material in a variety of ways to help us get sharper and sharper over time.

We must note this one last thing about growing in this holy skill of discernment through contrast and comparison. While this skill set must be employed to help sort out truth from error in the World’s communication to us – we are to develop it most keenly in respect to discerning the sinful motions of our OWN hearts, and not those of others. The main purpose of the exercise is to see where I am the fool, and not acting wisely. Where I am simple and not discerning. When I am giving in to sensuality above spirituality, etc. This is primarily for internal use, not external. So that I might grow in Christ’s likeness, not so I can see if others are or are not growing.

When I was a youngster, in the back of many of the comic books in my collection, were advertisements for X-Ray specs. Knowing their audience well (boys) they often even hinted that if you had these magical wonders, you could see through women’s clothes. This was the 50’s mind you.

Some will no doubt look at the Proverbs just as licentiously – in order to better see other’s “nakedness”. But that is not their purpose. Proverbs is a self-diagnostic to combat my own indwelling sin, and so perceive it in all of its subtleties. Nothing will help you see just how devious your own heart is, than constant exposure to the piercing vision of Proverbs. Use it well.

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