Contrasting the Parallelisms

A New Section

You may notice that starting here in chapter 10, the verses read a little differently. The reason is that here we see the beginning of the second part of this book (Prov. 10:1-22:16) which contains what are called “parallelisms.”

Parallelisms are grammatical and poetical devices which both help make a point and make the point easier to process while including an easier-to-remember element.

Sometimes parallelisms are antithetic (Prov. 10:1-15:33), while others are synthetic (Prov. 16:1-22:16). The first use two lines of prose to make a contrast; the second uses two lines to point out similarities.

A good extra-biblical example of antithetic parallelism can be seen in the words of Sir Winston Churchill (House of Commons, 22 October 1945):

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”

A good example of antithetic parallelism from chapter 10 might be the following verse:

Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins. – Proverbs 10:12

Churchill made a positive point about capitalism, but he did it by contrasting the “vice” of capitalism with the “virtue” of socialism. Solomon highlighted the caring and peaceful value of love by contrasting it with strife: false love can be exposed by the debris it stirs up.

However, neither kinds of parallelisms are meant to be understood as all-encompassing. Some are best understood as being more “rule-of-thumb” than absolute (i.e., Prov. 22:6 says: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it,” yet some children leave and never return).

Unpacking It All

Because there is no real way to connect all of these parallelisms into one coherent message, unlike the previous chapters which addressed particular themes, we could take a long time unpacking each one. Therefore, I would encourage you to go back and check out our past commentary on Proverbial Thought which dealt with each individual verse. You can do that by clicking on the tabs at the top of the page (chapters 9-12 will be uploaded soon).

But for now, since this time we are going through Proverbs in a more condensed fashion, we will only be addressing the verses which most stand out to the particular writer.

I’m looking forward to reading what the Holy Spirit shows the other writers. It should be interesting.

That being said…

Thinking of Proverbs 10:12 (as seen above), isn’t it wonderful when we choose not to bring up past wrongs, but rather let things lie, even cover them with a blanket of grace?

Solomon isn’t talking about sweeping guilt under a rug or denying wrongdoing or sin (such as abuse); he’s talking about forgiveness.

Sometimes the better part of forgiveness is to keep some things packed away and forgotten. Real love seeks healing; false love (hatred, selfishness, pride) demands a never-ending string of “I’m sorry’s” and never lets the dust settle on the past.

Above all, maintain constant love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins. – 1 Peter 4:8 CSB

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About Anthony Baker

Husband, dad, pastor/preacher/teacher, musician, and Time Magazine's Person of The Year in 2006 (no joke!). Loves coffee (big time), good movies, and sarcastic humor. Currently pursuing a Doctorate of Ministry. Most importantly, a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. All glory belongs to Him! View all posts by Anthony Baker

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