I remember hearing my dad describe how surprised he often was to hear the second side of a conflict. He said that when a co-worker came to him with a complaint about another, his first impression was to think the person really had a case. But if he took the time to hear the other side, he often ended up with a different impression.
Over the years I’ve recalled dad’s words whenever I happened to read the 17th verse of the 18th chapter of Proverbs. The last time I read this proverb, I went to Biblegateway.com to see how it sounds in several different translations. Here’s some of what I found:
1. He that is first in his on cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him. (King James Version)
2. The first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him. (New King James Version)
3. He who states his case first seems right, until his rival comes and cross-examines him. (Amplified Bible)
4. The first person to speak always seems right until someone comes and asks the right questions. (Easy to Read Version)
5. The first speech in a court case is always convincing—until the cross-examination starts! (The Message)
With a little more cross-referencing I found that the proverb seems to have an ancient connection to Jewish due process (Deut 1:16) as Moses recalled for the nation of Israel how he had urged their “elder-judges” to deal fairly in matters of dispute.
Interestingly, the next proverb talks about the wisdom of settling a dispute by the “casting of lots” (Proverb 18:18); while the next one then indicates that “a brother wronged is more unyielding than a fortified city (Proverbs 18:19).
Am thinking that “drawing straws” or “rolling dice” might be called for as a matter of last resort, if there is no other fair way to resolve and when agreed upon– while remembering the truth of 19 (Prov 18:19).
At this point, my thoughts went to the matter of application that we’ve talked about so much about in the past. How do these Proverbs relate to our point that the purpose of the Bible is to help us align ourselves with the Spirit of Christ—and through him to reflect the heart and presence of our God (in showing consideration for a brother/sister/neighbor/outsider)?
Am hoping this might be enough to get our conversation going today.
PS Cold weather and snow expected here today to confirm that winter has arrived. Your weather reports and general location (i.e. region of world, state, or country) are always welcome :-)