The first passage for today comes from the Book of Proverbs:
18 Three things are too wonderful for me;
four I do not understand:
19 the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a serpent on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
and the way of a man with a maiden.
This passage appealed to me today in large part because I believe that we can understand all of these. Science can help us explain how a bird can fly. Or a snake’s movement works. Science helps ships navigate on the seas, and explains how sails actually work. And of course this blog exist in part to try and explain that fourth mystery, which one might call socio-sexual interactions between men and women. Worth noting is that this part of the Book of Proverbs is not attributed to Solomon.
Something that I have always found interesting is the constant call in both Proverbs and Sirach for the disciplining of children. A few examples:
Do you have children? Discipline them,
and make them obedient from their youth.
He who spares the rod hates his son,
but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.
Many more examples exist, especially in Proverbs. What I find interesting is that some commentators see these verses and conclude that those who lived in biblical times were terribly cruel to their children. Myself, I come to the opposite conclusion. I think that many parents were far, far too lax. After all, how many good kings of Judah ended up having bad sons? More than a few. My own suspicion is that the wisdom writers were so vehement about the importance of discipline because parents were pretty bad at it. The constant moral troubles of Israel and Judah would seem to back this up.
And when we look at the world around us, the importance of discipline, even and especially harsh discipline, becomes apparent. Of all my peers that I still communicate with or know about, few if any that were poorly disciplined in their youths have turned out well. Most have fared poorly, and I know of several that have spent time in prison (and who weren’t necessarily the type you would expect to end up there). Whatever else I can say about my parents, I am grateful to them for their strict discipline when I was growing up. I cannot imagine what a wreck my life would be without that.
Since we are on the topic of discipline, this passage from the Letter to the Hebrews seems appropriate:
3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as sons?—
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor lose courage when you are punished by him.
6 For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers to discipline us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time at their pleasure, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
We reap what we sow. Both in ourselves, and in our children.