Bargaining

There are three verses in Proverbs 20 that bring memories. V. 10 “Differing weights and differing measures – the Lord detests them both.” V.23 is almost the same. Sandwiched between is v. 14 “”It’s no good, it’s no good!’ says the buyer, then off he goes and boasts about his purchase.” In the market in Kenya there would be large gunny-sacks of ground corn, beans, and all kinds of things. The food would be measured and sold by old cans that were often beaten up, indented, reducing the amount of flour inside. But also the merchant would stand there, lifting a can of flour and letting it pour out before you to see and drawing attention to himself and inviting you to buy his goods. Others lifted handfuls of flour and let it fall back to the sack. The effect is visual and drawing but in essence the flour is being loosened and air is entering the deal. Perhaps you can picture pouring a bag of flour into a container at home and then pounding the container to compact the flour to get that last little bit in. Merchants didn’t compact, they added air. At the end, giving you an extra handful of flour as a “baraka,” blessing, to make you think the merchant was generous.   Let the bargaining begin, no “fixed price!” While these verses bring wonderful memories of community, of interchanges and laughter, of friendly bargaining and bantering, the underlying message is a question of integrity. Am I so desperate, I am trying to take advantage of you, or am I so needy I am willing to claim poverty that is not honest. Hence I walk away boasting of my purchase. We all love a good sale. I heard on the TV, at the Governor’s Covid update the question, “What are you going to do about the great mid-Western phenomena of the garage sale this summer?” The proverb today challenges us to reflect on our “masks” that we use these days. God “detests,” and that’s a strong word, taking advantage of another either by under-selling or by over-bargaining. May we use honest measures and honest words as we interact with each other today. I will post the Daniel Bible-study later. Blessings.

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