Day 22: A good name (22:1)
“A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold”
We come to the end of Solomon himself putting together his wise sayings and from 22:17 onwards we find him putting together a compendium of sayings of the wise. Our text today is about the importance of having a good name, even more important than lots of possessions. While some may care little for a good reputation, for Solomon this matters more than anything and we can all think of the tragedy that ensues when a person loses his good name. Our text ties in with “Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man” (3:3,4) and “Blessings are upon the head of the just: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked. The memory of the just is blessed: but the name of the wicked shall rot” (10:6,7). Both take the view that earning a reputation for living the good life, while alive and when dead, matters more than anything else. Tying in with the theme of a good name and what truly matters is: “By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honour, and life” (22:4). Regarding the ending of this section, someone once did write: “The king, the wicked, the mocker, the wise, the proud, the diligent, the sluggard, the false witness, the guilty, the innocent, the rich, the poor, the prudent, the generous, the wife, the adulteress and the child all come on stage for a final curtain-call! And so does ‘The Righteous One’ ‘The Lord’ and ‘The Maker.’”
We begin our section of other wise sayings on a confident and entreating note: “Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge … That thy trust may be in the Lord” (22:17,19). We see again how important truth is: “Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge, That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?” (22:20,21) We are reminded again of our obligations to the less well off: “Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate: For the Lord will plead their cause” (22:22,23). We are warned: “Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man” (22:24). We are reminded of the need for wisdom in our dealings: “Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts” (22:26) and how to treat others: “Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set” (22:28).
Prayer: We thank you for the wisdom of Solomon and the wise. May we not lose our good name though folly, even if we lose our possessions. May we put doing the right thing high on our list, who loves truth and our neighbour.