Some scenarios of foolishness: some included because they are plain dumb, others because they are just immoral and God hates them.
This is the method of proverbs, there are lots of little self-help books of wise advice, but this one has a gloss over it of insight into God’s character and implications of that for how we should live.
The first scenario is: offering security for friends’ projects… Make it your relentless business to ensure the friend delivers. I love the image of a gazelle freeing itself from a trap. This is pure common sense advice.
Don’t be lazy (go to the ant thou sluggard… My dad used to quote!).
Don’t be a lying trouble-maker.
These scenarios have a fair bit of morality, God given insight, in them as well.
God’s law of love suffuses the common sense advice. There is a list of six things God hates… They are all to do with how we treat others, not offences directly to God.
You don’t get to blame the seductress for your sexual temptation – you ruined your own life by responding.
Then a return to adultery, because… you can’t say it often enough!
Here the morality and the common sense blend. It’s a dumb and dumber argument.
All lust based sex is a waste of time and money. You are dumb to waste good money on prostitutes, but super dumb to have an affair with a friend’s wife that blows up your whole social network and leaves your life in tatters.
If this bit was some of Solomon’s wisdom, as Bathsheba’s son he may have grown up with some of the consequences.
It’s such a loving book because it’s all persuasive. The language is guiding, cajoling, arguing, pleading… not just laying out cold rules. Brings to mind those images of Christ being the good Shepherd.
Guide me oh thou great Jehovah, as I walk in circles in the desert, inching towards the promised land!