Odd situations (Prov 27:5-27:7)

“Better is open rebuke

Than hidden love.

Well meant

Are the wounds

A friend inflicts.

Profuse are the kisses of an enemy.

The sated appetite spurns honey.

But to a ravenous appetite

Even the bitter is sweet.”

Here we have a series of pithy sayings. It is better to rebuke someone than have a hidden love. A friend can inflict a wound also. The profuse kisses of an enemy are false. If you are filled and not hungry, you will turn away from honey. Apparently honey was a great delicacy. However, if you are hungry, even bitter things will seem sweet.

Lack of self control (Prov 25:26-25:28)

“Like a muddied spring,

Or a polluted fountain,

Is the righteous

Who give way before the wicked.

It is not good

To eat much honey.

It is not good

To seek honor on top of honor.

Like a city breached without walls,

Is one who lacks self control.”

The righteous who give into the wicked are like muddied spring water or polluted fountains. Do not eat too much honey. Do not seek too many honors. You need self control. Otherwise you are like an open city where there are no gates and no walls. Self control is important.

Patience and honey (Prov 25:14-25:16)

“Like clouds and wind

Without rain

Is one who boasts of a gift never given.

With patience

A ruler may be persuaded.

A soft tongue can break bones.

If you have found honey,

Eat only enough for you.

Otherwise having too much,

You will vomit it.”

Do not be a phony giver. Do not boast about a gift that you never gave. Then you will be like dry clouds and wind without rain. You can persuade a king with patience. A soft tongue can break bones. If you have some honey, eat just enough to be filled. Otherwise, you will eat too much and vomit it anyway. Honey seems to the favorite delicacy that people over indulge in.

The loose woman (Prov 5:1-5:6)

“My child!

Be attentive to my wisdom!

Incline your ear to my understanding!

Thus you may hold on to prudence.

Thus your lips may guard knowledge.

The lips of a loose woman drip honey.

Her speech is smoother than oil.

But in the end

She is as bitter as wormwood.

She is as sharp as a two-edged sword.

Her feet go down to death.

Her steps follow the path to Sheol.

She does not keep straight on the path of life.

Her ways wander.

She does not know it.”

Once again, we have a parental warning, but this time it is about the loose or strange woman also mentioned in chapter 2. There is the usual admonition to pay attention and listen to his words of wisdom and understanding. He wanted his children to have prudence and knowledge. Then he went into a description of this loose or strange woman. Her lips were sweeter than honey and her speech smoother than oil. However she was bitter like wormwood, some kind of bitter plant. She also was a sharp two edged sword that would lead to death in Sheol. She did not keep to the straight and narrow path of life. She was a wanderer, but did not know it. There does not seem to be any sexual overtones, but a mere unflattering portrayal of this loose or strange woman.

The sweet law (Ps 119:97-119:104)

Mem

“Oh!

How I love your law!

It is my meditation all day long.

Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies.

It is always with me.

I have more understanding than all my teachers.

Your decrees are my meditation.

I understand more than the aged.

I keep your precepts.

I hold back my feet from every evil way,

In order to keep your word.

I do not turn aside from your ordinances.

You have taught me.

How sweet are your words to my taste!

Sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Through your precepts I get understanding.

Therefore I hate every false way.”

This psalmist spoke about the sweet law. He loved the law as he meditated on it all day long. The commandments of Yahweh made him wiser than his enemies. The law was always with him. In fact, he had more understanding than his teachers because he meditated on the law. He understood more than the old folks because he kept those precepts. He stayed away from evil ways so that he could keep the law of Yahweh. He never turned away from the ordinances of Yahweh. The law was sweeter than honey, a famous phrase. He understood things because of Yahweh’s precepts. He hated all false ways. Thus this section on the thirteenth consonant letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Mem, came to an end.

No one is listening (Ps 81:11-81:16)

“‘But my people did not listen to my voice.

Israel would not submit to me.

So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts.

They followed their own counsels.

O that my people would listen to me!

O that Israel would walk in my ways!

Then I would quickly subdue their enemies.

I would turn my hand against their foes.

Those who hate Yahweh

Would cringe toward him.

Their fate would last forever.

I would feed you with the finest of the wheat.

I would feed you with honey from the rock.

I would satisfy you.’”

This psalm ends with the Temple prophet speaking in the name of Yahweh. They would not listen to the voice of Yahweh. Israel did not submit to Yahweh because of their stubborn hearts. They followed their own counsel. They would not listen to Yahweh and walk in his ways. If they had, Yahweh could have quickly subdued their enemies. He would have turned against their foes. Those who hated Yahweh would cringe. Yahweh would have feed them with the finest wheat and honey that would have satisfied them.

Yahweh and the just law (Ps 19:7-19:10)

“The law of Yahweh is perfect.

It revives the soul.

The decrees of Yahweh are sure.

They make wise the simple.

The precepts of Yahweh are right.

They rejoice the heart.

The commandment of Yahweh is clear.

It enlightens the eyes.

The fear of Yahweh is pure.

It endures forever.

The ordinances of Yahweh are true.

They are righteous altogether.

More to be desired are they than gold.

They are even much finer than gold.

They are sweeter also than honey.

They are sweeter than the drippings of the honeycomb.”

In order to counteract the preceding almost pagan eulogy to the sun, the Mosaic law of Yahweh gets special mention. It is the law of Yahweh, the decrees of Yahweh, the precepts of Yahweh, the commandments of Yahweh, the ordinances of Yahweh. There can be no mistake. This is the law of Yahweh that begins with the fear of Yahweh. They revive the soul. They make the simple wise. They rejoice the heart. They enlighten the eyes. They set righteous and endure forever. They are finer than gold and sweeter than honey. Clearly the law of Yahweh is central, not the sun.

The fate of the wicked (Job 20:12-20:19)

“Though wickedness is sweet in their mouth,

Though they hide it under their tongues,

Though they are loath to let it go,

Though they hold it in their mouth,

Yet their food is turned in their stomachs.

It is the venom of asps within them.

They swallow down riches.

They vomit them up again.

God casts them out of their bellies.

They will suck the poison of asps.

The tongue of a viper will kill them.

They will not look on the rivers,

The streams flowing with honey and curds.

They will give back the fruit of their toil.

They will not swallow it down.

From the profit of their trading

They will get no enjoyment.

They have crushed and abandoned the poor.

They have seized a house

That they did not build.”

There is a further explanation of the wicked ones. They try to hide their wickedness. However it turns in their stomachs. Poisonous snakes or asps are within them. They swallow wealth and then vomit it out. What a metaphor! They will die from the poison of the snakes that they suck on. They will not see the rivers with honey and curds. They will give back the fruit of the land and not eat it. They will not enjoy their trading profits. They have crushed the poor and seized houses that they did not build. This is a vivid description of greedy people who do not care about others, the wicked ones.

Jonathan violates Saul’s interdiction (1 Sam 14:25-14:30)

“All the troops came upon a honeycomb. There was honey on the ground. When the troops came upon the honeycomb, the honey was dripping out. But they did not put their hands to their mouths. They feared the oath. But Jonathan had not heard his father charge the troops with the oath. So he extended the staff that was in his hand. He dipped the tip of it in the honeycomb. He then put his hand to his mouth. His eyes brightened. Then one of the soldiers said. ‘Your father strictly charged the troops with an oath. ‘Cursed be anyone who eats food this day.’ The troops are faint.’ Then Jonathan said. ‘My father has troubled the land. See how my eyes have brightened because I tasted a little of this honey. How much better it would have been if today the troops had eaten freely of the spoil taken from their enemies. For now the slaughter among the Philistines has not been great.”

Somehow, in this land of milk and honey there was a honeycomb dripping with honey. All the troops passed it by because they were afraid to break the oath of Saul. However, Jonathan had not heard the oath of his father. Thus he tasted the honey with his staff. In fact, his eyes were brighter. When a soldier told Jonathan about the oath to not eat food, Jonathan thought that it was a stupid oath. It would have been better if they had eaten of the spoils of the Philistines. Anyway, not that many Philistines were dead yet.

Samson’s riddle (Judg 14:10-14:20)

“He went down to the woman. Samson made a feast there as the young people were accustomed to do. When the people saw him, they brought thirty companions to be with him. Samson said to them. ‘Let me now put a riddle to you. If you can explain it to men within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty festive garments. But if you cannot explain it to me, then you shall give me thirty linen garments and thirty festive garments.’ So they said to him. ‘Ask your riddle. Let us hear it.’ He said to them.

‘Out of the eater came something to eat.

Out of the strong came something sweet’

But for three days they could not explain the riddle.”

Apparently, they had a week long wedding festival, more or less a drinking party with at least 30 companions. Samson proposed his riddle about the eater and something strong and sweet. They had 7 days to figure it out. The winner got 30 festive garments. Samson would get 30, but the others would get 1 each from Samson. For the first 3 days there was no answer.

“On the fourth day they said to Samson’s wife. ‘Coax your husband to explain the riddle to us or we burn you and your father’s house with fire. Have you invited us here to impoverish us?’ So Samson’s wife wept before him, and said. ‘You hate me. You do not really love me. You asked a riddle to my people, but you have not explained it to me.’ He said to her. ‘Look, I have not told my father or my mother. Why should I tell you?’ She wept before him the seven days that their feast lasted. Because she nagged him, on the seventh day he told her. Then she explained the riddle to her people. The men of the town said to him on the seventh day before the sun went down.

‘What is sweeter than honey?

What is stronger than a lion?’

Then he said to them,

‘If you had not plowed with my heifer,

You would not have found out my riddle.’”

Samson’s wife wanted him to explain the riddle to her. The 30 companions had threatened to burn her and her father’s house if she did not tell them. She cried and nagged Samson from the 4th to the 7th day. Then on the 7th day he explained it to her. She went in turn and explained how to solve the riddle to the companions. However, Samson realized that it was his wife who gave them the answer proclaiming that they had plowed with his heifer.

“Then the Spirit of Yahweh rushed on him. He went down to Ashkelon. There he killed thirty men of the town. He took their spoil. He gave the festive garments to those who had explained the riddle. In hot anger he went back to his father’s house. Samson’s wife was given to his companion, who had been his best man.”

Don’t make Samson mad. He went to Ashkelon, which was a chief Philistine city. There he killed 30 Philistine men and took their festive garments so that he could give them to the 30 companions at Timnah. He then went home and gave his wife to his best man. I guess that this was not a long marriage, just about a week long.