The wise accumulate knowledge—a true treasure;
know-it-alls talk too much—a sheer waste.
-Proverbs 10:14 (The Message)
The Proverbs--a masterful collection of wisdom sayings, true-to-life utterances, helpful words, and ponderous thoughts--are meant to instruct. Throughout, the way of the wise and the way of the fool are made plain. Pithy analogies are utilized; short illustrations drive home life lessons.
In this reading, the contrast is simple: we have the wise and the "know-it-all." Both accumulate knowledge. What is the difference?
In the case of one, knowledge accumulated amounts to "a true treasure." In the case of the other, knowledge is used to impress others, to fill dead-air, to kill silence. Knowledge is used as a bludgeon, and relationships suffer. "Know-it-alls" who possess knowledge, who talk continuously, offer knowledge, but it only amounts to waste. Wasted words, wasted time, wasted relationships, wasted community. The knowledge here does not build up, doesn't enrich, doesn't add value.
Seek knowledge. That is wise. But accumulate and steward that knowledge as a treasure, and dispense it generously, with humility. Don't be like the know-it-all. Don't annoy and abuse others by what you know, but build others up. Dispense treasure, not waste.
Lord, help me to seek knowledge, and to be wise. May my words of wisdom build others up. May I be slow to speak, and judicious in what I choose to share. Amen.