8 The wise of heart will heed commandments,
but a babbling fool will come to ruin.
9 Whoever walks in integrity walks securely,
but whoever follows perverse ways will be found out.
10 Whoever winks the eye causes trouble,
but the one who rebukes boldly makes peace.
Ancient Jewish symbolism often incorporated images of pomegranates. The tradition comes from the legend that this very healthy fruit has 613 seeds, the same number of God’s commandments in the Hebrew scriptures. In other words, just as the pomegranate is highly beneficial for body, the commandments are healthy for the soul and for the community.
The scripture today provides a nice contrast with what is healthy and what is not.
The babbling fool often doesn’t know how much he or she doesn’t know. “Whoever winks the eye” epitomizes the “know it all,” the cynic, the “been-there-done-that” guy who cares less about relationships and more for having a good time.
The babbler and the winker are woven together with the concept of “perverse ways.” We can be misguided or intentional; but a perverse way is a path heading in an unhelpful and unhealthy direction. The babbler might be superficial; the winker could be arrogant; both are perverse in that they (sometimes we) completely misunderstand how much we have strayed from, misunderstood or misconstrued what God hopes for us.
Therefore, attitude matters. How we view the world and others is of considerable concern. How we live and treat others is significant. “Ruin” and “trouble” loom as our warnings. In the long run, both the babbler and the winker will be “found out.” Telling the truth, living with integrity and standing for what is right matters greatly. Not to do is highly consequential – and comes back to haunt.
Therefore, “the wise of heart will heed commandments.” We can enjoy the value of integrity and of doing our best to follow in the ways of God. Doing so merges us with the eternal qualities evoked by the pomegranate, the healthiest and most symbolic of all fruit. Now we are prepared to “boldly make peace” and claim the glad purposes of God.
PRAY: Help me, O God, to prepare myself in such a way that my heart grows in wisdom, that my life reflects a consistent journey of integrity, that my courage will inspire and my actions will boldly make peace. Amen.