Proverbs 11:20-31 Inappropriate

 20 The LORD detests those whose hearts are perverse,
   but he delights in those whose ways are blameless.

 21 Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished,
   but those who are righteous will go free.

 22 Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout
   is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.

 23 The desire of the righteous ends only in good,
   but the hope of the wicked only in wrath.

 24 One person gives freely, yet gains even more;
   another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.

 25 A generous person will prosper;
   whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

 26 People curse the one who hoards grain,
   but they pray God’s blessing on the one who is willing to sell.

 27 Whoever seeks good finds favor,
   but evil comes to one who searches for it.

 28 Those who trust in their riches will fall,
   but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.

 29 Whoever brings ruin on their family will inherit only wind,
   and the fool will be servant to the wise.

 30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
   and the one who is wise saves lives.

 31 If the righteous receive their due on earth,
   how much more the ungodly and the sinner!

The Ring in the Pig’s Snout

In the middle of Proverbs 11 is a verse that stands out because it doesn’t fit.  It takes us to a pig with a ring through its snout.  The ring doesn’t fit in a pig’s snout because this is by inference a valuable ring and the pig is the most detestable of animals.  Remember pigs were not eaten by ancient Jews.  Pigs were unclean and detested, so the pig turning up in the middle of the list of wicked and righteous actions is for affect.  Wise, wonderful and valuable things should be found in wise wonderful and valuable places.  Empty, unclean and evil things also have their place where you expect to find them.  On the first level, women who know how to beautify their features but show no discretion are not truly beautiful.  Women who wear earings but have no class can not hide their lack of sense.  This is in contrast with the woman of Proverbs 30.  On a deeper level, using wisdom in the wrong context with empty or evil people is inappropriate and pointless.  Jesus reinforces this point when he talks about pearls and swine (Matt. 7:6). 

The implication of this verse is that wise people pursue a peaceful life of harmony.  What they say and do is in line.  Where they spend their time and energy is in line with their stated values and wisdom.  It is not that they do not care about others, but they deal with others from a consistent and centered life.  Their life is in harmony with God and creation.  There is no disharmony like a pig with a ring through its snout, or a beautiful woman who is a fool.

Questions

  1. How does the verse about beauty used unwisely stand out from other verses?
  2. What do you think the author’s intent is by letting the pig with the ring through its snout pop out from the repeated patterns in the text?
  3. How would a parent encourage their child to live a life that shows harmony between wisdom and actions?
  4. Name any female role models who you think have external beauty but ruin it by their decisions.
  5. Name any role models who you think have harmony between their daily living and their beliefs.
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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