Fish or Bones

Fish or Bones

Denny Petrillo

"Listen, for I shall speak noble things...Take my instruction"

(Proverbs 8:6, 10)

     I don't know who came up with the saying "eat the meat and spit out the bones."  Seems pretty logical, though.  I never cared much for bones.  Yet the saying isn't really about fish and bones.  It is about the information that we receive.  Once that information is given, we are to determine what we're going to do with it.  In Proverbs eight, wisdom is personified as a woman.  This "wisdom woman" gives two imperatives early in the chapter.  In 8:6 she commands "listen."  Then she gives eight reasons why we should listen.  Then she commands "take" (8:10).  The word used here actually means "choose."  I guess it is now time to determine what we're going to do with the information.  We have two choices:

     We can eat the bones and spit out the meat.  Seems like a silly choice, but it is a choice nevertheless.  In Proverbs it is the fool who decides to keep the bones.  Fools "despise wisdom and instruction" (1:7).  Read: "fools despise meat and love bones."  In 1:22 Solomon says "fools hate knowledge."  Isn't that the same as saying that fools hate meat?  If we do not enjoy Bible study, but would rather watch television, are we not choosing the bones?  If we have a chance to hear a gospel sermon, but decide to stay at home, are we not choosing the bones?

     We can eat the meat and spit out the bones.  My boys would say: "Dad, that's a 'no-brainer.'"  Yes, it certainly is!  Eating the meat is the same as hearing and consuming truly valuable information.  Solomon said "A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel" (1:5).  Read: The wise love meat!

     When Joshua was nearing the end of his life he laid before the people a powerful alternative: "choose for yourselves today whom you will serve" (Joshua 24:15).  They were going to have to decide whether to take the bones of the false gods of Egypt or the meat offered by the Lord.  Joshua had already decided to go with the meat: "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

     Elijah, having defeated the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, told the people: "How long will you hesitate between two opinions?  If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him" (1 Kings 18:21).  The people had a choice.  You guessed it: bones (Baal, and all of his false information) or meat (the Lord, and all of His true information).    

     We are now left with a choice in our own lives.  Are we going to have a steady diet of bones?  Paul would call this "worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called knowledge which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith" (1 Timothy 6:20-21).  Or, are we going to have a steady diet of meat? Again, Paul says that we should be "constantly nourished" on this meat.  He called that meat "the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine" (1 Timothy 4:6).

So, what will it be?  Fish or bones?