Day shift, one cup at a time

By Jeff Smith
Special to The PREVIEW

I’ve been doing some night shifts, so now that I’m back on days, I’m still waking up at night because the body clock is turned around.

It’s nice when it’s dark and quiet. You can think a bit before heading back to the sack. My cup of Joe will come with the sun.

I’ve been reading one of the wisdom books in the Bible, the book of Proverbs by Solomon. Solomon was a young, untested monarch who took the throne of Israel and asked for divine wisdom. He was told he would be the wisest who ever lived.

Just finished chapter seven and for a book that is supposed to make a person wise, so he can have a good life, it packs a lot of drama. In this dark chapter, you get to read about a young man being lured to his death by a woman of the night. I count ten mistakes he makes. He . . .

Thinks he is not being watched (vs 6).

Has dumb friends (vs 7).

Looks for love in all the wrong places (vs 8, 9).

Misses plain, out-there signs that this is a bad person (vs 10).

Lets passion fog his thinking (vs 13).

Is offered a shallow display of faith in God (vs 14).

Thinks that someone’s interest in him means they value him as a person (vs 15).

Is convinced he won’t get caught (vs 19).

Allows someone with no care for his well-being to lead him (vs 21).

Assumes nothing bad will happen (vs 23).

Now I am starting chapter eight and the scene changes.

“Is not wisdom crying out, and the voice of knowledge sounding? At the top of the highways, at the meeting of the roads, she takes her place; Where the roads go into the town her cry goes out, at the doorways her voice is loud: I am crying out to you, O men; my voice comes to the sons of men. Become an expert in reason, O you simple ones …” Proverbs 8:1-4.

Solomon is trying to tell us something about what it is to be a wise person. Here, it’s not hard to imagine in an ancient world what kinds of things are said resting at the top of a highway, waiting at a cross roads, walking into town or sweeping the front porch. The weather, the price of food, politics. They would also say things like, “Oh, that’s a smart thing to do,” or, “He was foolish to try that.” Common sense kinds of things.

So, what he is saying is, just as there are foolish ideas that seduce and destroy, so there is a wise way of thinking, but it is open, out there and honest. It doesn’t deceive or coerce. It rejects the idea of dark secrets that are only for a few.

The brilliance of wisdom and scripture as a whole is that, while it can create leaders, yet it refuses to create an elite. It speaks its  profound ideas in the voice of common people, taking common reason to a higher level. Not everyone wants to be simple or naive. I don’t.

Paul describes the shift this way:

“Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly, we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:2, NIV.

It’s the difference between night and day.

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This story was posted on May 16, 2013.