Proverbs 15:30 The Message (MSG) “A twinkle in the eye means joy in the heart, and good news makes you feel fit as a fiddle.”
Proverbs 15:30 New International Version (NIV) “Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.”
This text seems like common sense, but warrants exploration regardless. Reading through the various translations the first question in my mind is which comes first? Does brightness or twinkling in one’s eyes lead to joy, or does it indicate joy?
First, I suppose lets get the visual right. The Hebrew word for light means luminary – this is a word used in Genesis to describe the sun and stars, it’s also used when talking about oil lamps. I like that the Message used the word twinkle. In other words, this is someone who’s eyes are noticeably bright, sparkling, etc. When does that happen? This isn’t talking about someone without cataracts, but someone who is so cheerful and joyful their eyes just glow. I can certainly think of people like that.
While it is true that to have such bright and cheerful eyes, one must have a joyful heart, I think this verse isn’t stating that truth, but challenging us. What happens when we are around someone so joyful, their eyes sparkle? It’s infectious, right? It’s hard not to walk away without feeling uplifted. That’s what this verse is saying, being around someone who is joyful, gladdens our hearts.
This fits with the second part as well. The Hebrew word for news is shemuah meaning a report, message, or news, as in something heard in conversation. What happens when we hear good news? The Hebrew literally says it “puts fat on the bones”. This phrase broken down is about filling our souls. To put fat on, is to prosper or add substance and this word was often used talking about riches and abundance. The word used for bones, etsem, also means substance and self. So hearing a good report fills us, satisfies us to the point of overflowing.
I think it’s pretty clear what wisdom this Proverb relays, leading to two challenges.
First, am I the person with bright eyes, infectiously cheerful and causing glad hearts in my wake? Are the words in my conversations good reports, positive and uplifting?
Secondly, what are the messages or news I spend my time listening to? If it’s fear based, negative and overall “bad” news then I should expect my inner self to feel depleted.