Proverbs 10:2 – A Story

They do not benefit, storehouses of wickedness;
And righteousness saves from death.

The Hebrew word for “wickedness”, resa (H7562), is the normal contrast to righteous/righteousness, tsedeq (H6664), in Hebrew wisdom literature.

The word for “benefit”, yaal (H3276), is almost always negative. It basically refers to any sort of benefit, legal or mercantile. It is typically translated as “profit”, but “benefit” lends itself to both types.

He had lied. He had lied a lot. In fact, he could no longer remember when the last time he had told the whole truth. The weight was heavy on him, and he took some comfort in that, but not much.

Eric rubbed his temples, elbows on his desk, eyes squeezed shut. A tear seeped out from the corner of his eye and traced a faint line down his cheek. It ran to the tip of his nose pausing just before dropping to the glass covering the walnut desktop.

On a black terry-cloth towel just to his right lay his .45 automatic pistol. It was cleaned and oiled, loaded and charged, ready. Watermarked cotton-fiber paper lay before him, a Mont Blanc pen laying askew where the writing had stopped. It hadn’t ended, he wasn’t done writing, he just wasn’t sure he could go on.

Eric sighed deeply, sat up, and picked up the pen. He blinked at the page briefly, and once more put the tip to the paper. The meaningless wealth, the empty luxury, the hollow relationships, all flowed through him and on to the paper. His pain erupted from him, and the page filled with words.

He flipped the page over and continued. Shifting his position at the desk, he bore down on the page, the pen making deep marks with each stroke of a letter. His face drew up into a scowl, and his brow furrowed deeply. Then, with a light sigh, the scowl softened to a frown, and his brow relaxed. The page continued to fill with words.

Eric sat back, looking at the page, flipping it back and forth, twiddling the pen between the fingers of his right hand. He re-read the words, the sentences, the paragraphs, and the pages. He wiped the tears with the back of his hand, and set down the page, staring across his desk at the ornate office door.

The time of decision he had been avoiding had arrived. The page was supposed to help him decide, or at least help him follow through on his decision. He read the first paragraph again. It made sense to proceed. He continued to the second page. It started to make more sense not to proceed.

Other people were the problem. As long as he didn’t think of them, he could proceed. As soon as he considered them, it made less sense. He fidgeted with the paper, flicking the edge with his ring finger.

Proceeding was more like who he had become. It was consistent. Yet, he now saw he could become someone else.  There was an alternative he had not considered until he poured his pain out on to the page. He could feel his heart race at the thought of such a change.

Come clean, and live with the consequences. He shrugged. Or die from them, just not by his own hand.

It was a fight to get here. Eric drummed his fingers on the glass of his desk and chewed his lip. It will be a fight to get out. If it’s even possible, alive anyway.

Eric stood and pulled his suit jacket from the back of his leather desk chair. He slipped into the jacket and adjusted his tie. He opened the drawer with his holster, put the pistol in it, and slid it shut slowly, staring at the weapon as it disappeared. The decision had been made.

He came around from behind the desk, looked at his reflection in the glass of a framed black and white photo of the Yosemite Mountains. He flicked a hair back into place, sighed deeply, and walked to the door. Without a pause, Eric left the office, and went to tell his wife the whole truth. He would start there.


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