A devotion on Proverbs 30:1-16
11 There is a generation that curses its father and does not bless its mother.
12 There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes yet is not washed from its filth.
13 There is a generation—how haughty its eyes and pretentious its looks.
14 There is a generation whose teeth are swords, whose fangs are knives,
devouring the oppressed from the land and the needy from among mankind.
And there is a judge.
I am smitten by the poetic flow of this chapter. Note, for example, the power of repetition in these 4 verses. It reads like a Martin Luther King oration. A generation refers to those living during a period of time or a dwelling-place. I must confess that my mind first jumped to the generations younger than me, but this passage can refer to all mankind living during the time it was written or we can apply it to ourselves today. It is easy to deprecate those younger than us, turn a blind eye to ourselves, and idolize those that are older and long gone.
Let’s look at God’s indictment against collective humanity. Immediately shine this light (zahar) on your own life in assessment. To curse your father literally means to make him light. It is to consider him slight and trifling. It is to hold him in low esteem or give him little account, to deem him insignificant. We are seeing the impact of worldwide societies marked by fatherless homes – and it is dismal.
In many cultures, girls even desire a baby as a rite of passage – as crucial as getting your first iPhone. The man is merely a sperm donor. We also see the silencing of men by strong women and unending jokes regarding their stupidity. If you run in a circle where women roll their eyes and say, “Men!” as an explanation for why things went wrong, take this passage to heart. Refuse to participate in this cursing. Ask Holy Spirit to give you a holy reverence for men and not to have a relationship with them generally based on disdain or sexualization.
How do we fail to bless our mother? Barak is the Hebrew word for bless. It literally means to kneel. It is to praise, adore, congratulate, and thank. Note how substantial this action is. It is not just a thought we carry in our heads. It is gesture that we must set things aside to do. It is an attitude that we must live in and be swift to demonstrate at every turn.
Commentator Bridges says of these verses pertaining to parents: “Many are the forms in which this proud abomination shows itself: resistance to a parent’s authority, contempt of his reproof, shamelessly defiling his name, needlessly exposing his sin, coveting his substance, denying his obligation.” In what ways do we consistently do that in our cultures? In what ways do I fail to bless them? Ask Holy Spirit to nurture a weighty attitude towards men and a kneeling attitude towards women.
God’s second indictment is a generation that is pure in their own eyes yet not washed from their filth. They are preoccupied with external appearances at the expense of inner moral or mental substance. They drove Jesus screaming mad back in the day: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean,” Mt. 23:27. It drives him screaming mad today. Our fixation on superficiality and people pleasing and our lack of integrity is a serious problem we must address urgently.
The arrogant make up the third judgement. We have read repeatedly in Psalms and Proverbs that God will hurtle the proud to the ground. “You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty,” Ps 18:27. God has little use for inflated egos and photoshopped selfies. He treasures – people, he treasures – humble people who are over themselves. He cherishes those who know they have nothing and are nothing without him. In what ways can you increase your humility quotient today? Though we resist it vehemently, the most reliable way to grow in humility is through humiliation. What humiliating experience have you had that made you less proud? Confession of sin to one another is one such mechanism that God has put in place. Observe how often we do it…
The last group is a greedy and heartless one. With sword-like teeth and knife-like fangs they devour the powerless. It is easy to prey on those who can’t stand up for themselves. All too easy to be a bully against the defenseless. At first glance, we may think we would never do that. The clearest way we may do that is by the causes we support with our pocketbooks. We may use ignorance as a shield to guard us from knowing the real consequences of our real choices on real people’s lives. That shield will be a worthless defense when we stand before the supreme judge.
Friends, we all fit those categories to one degree or another. We need Holy Spirit to extricate us from the mess they create. He empowers us to a different calling. We are those who honor ALL authority as God-given. We are those who have integrity and strive to match what is on the inside to what is on the outside. We are those who are completely humble and gentle (Eph. 4:1). And we are those who defend the powerless.