Proverbs 11:1 (New International Version)
1 The LORD detests dishonest scales,
but accurate weights find favour with him.
There is more to life than what we can weigh and measure but what we weigh and measure is no less a part of life and a part of life that interests God.
There are three word pairs in Proverbs 11:1. ‘Scales’ (or, better, ‘balances’, that is, two pans on the ends of a crosspiece) is paired with ‘weights’. One is the instrument and the other is the means of calibration. Both need to be in good shape if a reliable measurement is to be made. ‘Dishonest’ is contrasted with ‘accurate’. These are opposites. Here falsehood and deceit are contrasted with justice and fairness. Finally, ‘detests’ is contrasted with ‘find favour’. These two words bring God into the picture. They indicate that a crooked merchant not only rips off the customer, but is an abomination to the Lord; an honest dealer not only respects his clients, but delights God.
Our society has developed technology to ensure a litre is a litre at the petrol pump, a metre is a metre in the land title, and a five-dollar note is increasingly difficult to forge. We should give thanks to God for the scientists and engineers and surveyors who labour to ingrain accuracy and honesty into our daily lives. Their work limits the opportunity for corruption and builds the confidence on which commerce and industry can flourish.
The principle of honesty and accuracy in the most mundane matters may be extended to wider spheres and some English translations of Proverbs 11:1 reflect this. Thus The Message generalises, ‘GOD hates cheating in the marketplace; he loves it when business is aboveboard’. More expansively still, the CEV has, ‘The LORD hates anyone who cheats, but he likes everyone who is honest’ and the TLB has, ‘The Lord hates cheating and delights in honesty.’
While there is more to life than what we can weigh and measure, nonetheless how we weigh and measure is not insignificant; it touches God, and draws forth either disgust or delight.