Let’s play a little word association game, okay? What images or thoughts come to mind when you hear, oh, let’s say, “tablet”.
What is the first image that comes to mind?
If you’re my age or older, perhaps the first image that comes to mind when we hear “tablet” is ...
Remember those? Forty-eight off-white sheets with, were they blue or red, horizontal lines? Our teacher pointed to the alphabet cards above our dusty blackboards. That string of alphabet cards took up the whole front of the classroom and, if you were from my neck of the woods, you’d not given them much attention until first grade. Our county didn’t bother with kindergarten when we kids could make mud pies between the lilac bushes and feed horses or stand with our feet wobbling on the lowest board of a wooden fence to see how many sheep we could count. We knew the day would come when we were rounded up to be confined to a sitting position at a desk inside tall walls and windows about the size of a granary door where we’d get whiffs of waxy crayons and spearmint-y white paste rather than mown alfalfa, sweating animals, cedar trees, and fresh laundry whipping in the wind. Pardon me, back to the tablet . . . 🙂
We were told to get out our Big Chief tablets because we were going to tackle real capital letters. Most of us girls had been “writing” before, but during sermons on scratch paper or for thank you notes for presents, and our up and down and squiggly scratches were indecipherable to anyone who didn’t know us well. But now we were to get down to business because once we mastered the alphabet, every alphabet-aware person in the world could read what we wrote.
So we hesitantly wrapped our fingers around those Number 2 lead pencils. If we didn’t hold the pencil with our flexible pointy finger on top and our thumb and tall finger steading the lead pencil, we’d be corrected. Part of our days were spent trying to make our “big” letters look like the all the “big” letters above the blackboard. No doubt we wore the erasers down to the metal as we struggled to guide the marks into something readable. There we were, making all the “big” letters touch all three lines on that sheet of our Big Chief tablet. Wise teachers told us to put a finger-space between each letter. Later, we’d use up the sheets of our Big Chief faster when we moved on to those more playful rule-breaking small letters that required up to four lines; some of them reached for the top line and some of them dangled precariously below the main line, but we’d have to erase if any of our letters disrespected their obligation to touch those two main lines. Those were the days of the Big Chief tablets.
Oh, was the Big Chief tablet not what you envisioned when I said, “tablet”?
If you’re my age but have at least some knowledge and comfort with things that have moved beyond the pencil and paper restrictions…. you might envision something like these:
Thanks to today’s Internet, those images are only a few clicks away when we want to search for them. If you envisioned these, or something like them, much of the world would have matched your images, though of course, thousands still have never seen either the paper or the electronic tablets we can visualize.
Or, if you’re a movie buff or a Bible student, your first image may have had something to do with a variation of this: (thanks to Pixabay….)
There is a tablet, though, that we all do have in common, regardless of where we live and regardless of how much exposure we’ve had to technology. Our “tablet-in-comon” is alluded to a few times in the Book of Proverbs. Proverbs is a book of sayings written by Israel’s King Solomon, deceased King David’s son.
If you’ve taken up the challenge to read a chapter in Proverbs each day, then you are likely going to read chapter three on the third day of each month. From Proverbs three, I was struck by verse three. It says, in the English Standard Version: “Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.” (Proverbs 3:3)
The readers of Proverbs would have described the tablets of their day as flat stones upon which important words were etched. Stones were the computer’s “save as” option in past centuries, before ink or even permanent markers versions became common place. If the law was written in stone, it was unlikely anyone could change that law. Can you imagine the “filing cabinet” for those stone tablets? That’s what archeology is partly about…but that’s a digression for now. You can get sidetracked tracing stone tablets, even, or maybe I should say, especially in the Faithlife Study Bible which is loaded with extra online helps. Incidentally, you can download free apps of it without a lot of trouble if you’re so inclined.
While we don’t think of tablets in the ancient way, “written in stone” can still pop up as part of our vernacular. For centuries, people knew stone tablets were kept by kings and others in authority.
Proverbs three, verse three, and those that follow, cause me to stop and ponder: What is written on the tablet of my heart? In Proverbs, the son/reader is strongly encouraged to go after godly wisdom. For us today, thanks to the preservation of manuscripts through the centuries, God’s wisdom is the Holy Bible. In verses 3-5, we are told to trust int he Lord with all our hearts because our “wisdom” is so inferior to the Lord’s. If we want to be blessed, we need to be in God’s Word. So, I need to ask myself: How often do I spend time meditating upon its truths? My heart has recorded many things, but which of those are of value and are compatible with Biblical truths? Which untruths need to be chiseled out so God’s truths alone can be available to guide me?
I suppose many of you are also thinking of the reference in the Bible of God’s promise to change hearts of stone to hearts of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26: And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.) Thinking more on that will have to wait for another posting.
For today, though, go ahead and read the other verses in Proverbs 3 from your Bible or try this app from the Faithlife Study Bible, entering Proverbs 3 after you download it . . . FOR FREE.