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‘Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy’.

12th February 2021

Monday 22nd February

‘Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy’.

(Proverbs 31:9)

Last half term in religious studies, the Remove were learning about the Bible as a library of books. And within those books are found many types of writing; history, poetry, laws. letters, myth, legend, parable, prophesy and of course proverbs. Identifying the type of writing is central to understanding the meaning of any passage that is being read, as is the context within which it was written. Get is wrong and well…you can end up in a real muddle!

So what do we make of the proverbs  of which there is a whole book in the Bible. They belong to the Wisdom tradition and the Book of Proverbs is largely attributed to King Solomon, son of the great Jewish King David. They are important to both Jews and Christians and contain invaluable precepts to guide people to moral and spiritual strength. Many of the proverbs have relevance to religious and non-religious people alike and have provided inspiration through the centuries.

A proverb is usually simple but profound. It often makes use of metaphor and packs a big message into a small package! Sometimes it may have multiple meanings which require greater reflection and they can provoke real discussion. These are wisdom sayings and they are different from pure knowledge. Arguably a person can be highly knowledgeable but not wise, although the converse is unlikely to be true. Wisdom is often associated with age and maturity but there are those who are often wise beyond their years, and older people who have yet to transition to an older wiser self!

So what are we to make of our proverb this week? I don’t think we would disagree that it is about using our voices to speak up for the poor and needy and by implication, those who are marginalised in any context.

If you are in a situation where you can defend someone, you better do it. Get your mouth open and say something. Defend what is right and true against liars and oppressors. Argue and fight for those who are being attacked or are in trouble and cannot defend themselves. And that needn’t be a million miles away from where we are. This applies to those we might see being treated unfairly by others in our class or on social media as well as speaking up of the big human rights campaigns. Of course its often easier to speak up about distant and universal causes but the challenge for most of us lies closer to home and in the more personal and particular.

So this week we should choose our words wisely and seek to open our mouths for the greater good of others. We can also listen and learn from those who work in defense of the poor and needy, who act on that wisdom.


Christine Crossley.

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