The Folly of Collecting Wise Sayings


1 The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:

2To know wisdom and instruction,

to understand words of insight,

3to receive instruction in wise dealing,

in righteousness, justice, and equity;

4to give prudence to the simple,

knowledge and discretion to the youth—

5Let the wise hear and increase in learning,

and the one who understands obtain guidance,

6to understand a proverb and a saying,

the words of the wise and their riddles.

7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;

fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 1:1-7


I enjoy proverbs and enjoy reading collections of proverbs from a variety of cultures. I’ve been making my way through a collection of proverbs and sayings from Haiti.

Here’s one from Hidden Meanings, the Truth and Secret in Haiti’s Creole Proverbs by Wally R. Turnbull:

Figi ki vann nan credo se pa li ki ranmase kob la.

The face that sells on credit is not the one that collects the debt.

Meaning: One changes personalities when collecting a debt.


So true.

There is a problem or danger for the collector of wise sayings and its noted in the first chapter of The Proverbs in the Bible. As a collection of wise sayings from a variety of authors within Israel’s wisdom literature much of the work is attributed to Solomon. Solomon is aware that simply knowing proverbs and having them in your head is not enough. Wisdom is relational; its a mix of knowledge: content and observations about relationships in life. Solomon contends that the first relationship to  establish wisdom as a “knowingness” in our lives is a relationship with God.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”

So you could collect and memorize all the sayings, but if you live without the  fear of the Lord you will lack knowledge.

The fear of the Lord.

What is it?

An abiding and disturbing sense.

An abiding sense of the bigness, mysteriousness, “I will not be controlled by you-ness” of God?

An abiding sense of being seen, known, examined by, measured by, cared for, and even loved by God?

An abiding sense that God does not miss a thing about us?

An abiding sense that God enters into relationship with us?

An abiding sense that God is God an I am not.

Collecting proverbs will never provide the fear of the Lord. However, the Bible’s Proverbs contend that people who have an abiding and disturbing sense of God will love, treasure, and apply wisdom.


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