My thoughts (David Zier):
As I read this group of proverbs, the contrasts that are presented in each verse seemed very intriguing to me, especially how they are translated in various versions of the Bible. Jump between a contemporary version, the NRSV, King James, and NIV, and the flavor of the contrast is presented more starkly in some versions over others.
The Good News translation of verse 15 is a simplified statement, “Intelligent people are always eager and ready to learn.” The NRSV places a contrast here, “the intelligent mind acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.” I love this contrast because it reminds me how I can sometimes place too much emphasis on what I have learned or acquired in my life. Just because I have many degrees, or I have taken many classes in a variety of areas, doesn’t mean I have acquired the knowledge I really need to be the best me over my lifetime. Yes, I have acquired lots of knowledge not hat journey. This proverb reminds me that it is not about what I have acquired, but what wisdom I seek and what do I learn, and how do I use what I learn to live. We are taught in society to get well educated and get into a good profession, and all will be set well for our lives, career, and financial security. Times are changing, and that may not be such a guarantee like it was a few decades ago.
This reminds me of the book Falling Upward by Richard Rohr. He describes that in the first half of life, which varies from person to person in events and years, we care about our careers, courtship, finding a mate, establishing ourselves, financial security, climbing the corporate ladder, etc. I guess one could call that ego-centric. In the second half, after falling down many times over the course of life (being fired, illnesses, broken relationships, etc.), the joy of life is about getting back up, learning from what life throws at us, and being open about understanding “me” a lot better; getting beyond the more personal concerns for material things and getting to a place of a more spiritual nature. Truly seeking God and understanding self is a big part of the second half. Verse 15 is a good summary of the book. (This is not the movie version, so you still need to read it!)
During my seminary days, I read about many ancient Christians, the saints, and followers of Christ from the past 2000 years, male and female, that grow to a place and an understanding where seeking knowledge, learning about self, and integrating self with God and Christ’s call in life takes precedence over other things.
Proverbs 19:15 carries with it a lot of history of wise Christians and their experience and knowledge. Don’t waste a day longer. Dig down deep, pray, and seek knowledge; knowledge about who you really are.
Thought for the day: Am I willing to do the hard work of looking inward and understanding myself better; daring to understand God better. After all, God wove me together. Do I seek true knowledge?
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.