The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord;
he turns it wherever he will.
All deeds are right in the sight of the doer,
but the Lord weighs the heart.
To do righteousness and justice
is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.
Haughty eyes and a proud heart—
the lamp of the wicked—are sin.
The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance,
but everyone who is hasty comes only to want.
The getting of treasures by a lying tongue
is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death.
The souls of the wicked desire evil;
their neighbors find no mercy in their eyes.
When a scoffer is punished, the simple become wiser;
when the wise are instructed, they increase in knowledge.
The Righteous One observes the house of the wicked;
he casts the wicked down to ruin.
If you close your ear to the cry of the poor,
you will cry out and not be heard.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Sometimes I look back on my high school days and wonder what I learned that still has meaning. Algebra had value, but I wish I’d taken a class in finance. Biology interested me, but if I’d known at sixteen the issues a body has at fifty, I might have preferred a solid course in human anatomy. Not everything we studied in high school remains useful in later life.
And while there were no Old Testament classes at the public high school I attended, what an education in the art of living there would have been in the Book of Proverbs! It’s a majestic compendium of ideas about how to make the most of life. Does it matter how we treat others? How are our hearts shaped? Do people who seek success by lying pay a price in the end?
Take one saying from Proverbs. Imagine Jesus using the same words to teach his followers. How might it have felt to hear such wise words spoken to you with Christ as your teacher?
—Joe Kraemer, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Jesuits West Province currently starting his second year of Regency in the Advancement Office in Los Gatos, California.
Here’s a prayer tool you might consider trying out this fall. Memorize a proverb. Take time to meditate and pray with it for a while. Offer it up quietly as little “breath prayers” to God. Here’s how I’ve opened up a proverb from today’s reading and made it a prayer of my own:
“The ways of a man may seem right to himself, but God proves hearts.”
“Turn my eyes to you, oh Lord. Help me to know You and follow You today.
Help me see You better in everyone I meet.
Grant me wisdom and understanding in all that I do.”
“Prove my heart, Lord. Prove my heart.”
—Joe Kraemer, SJ
Please share the Good Word with your friends!