The Comb: It’s Not out of Hatred

Book Title: De bykorf des gemoeds : honing zaamelende uit allerly bloemen / vervattende over de honderd konstige figuuren ; met godlyke spreuken en stichtelyke verzen, door Jan Luiken

Author: Luiken, Jan, 1649-1712

Image Title: The Comb: It’s Not out of Hatred

Scripture Reference:

Description: In a room, a young child screams while her mother uses a comb to delouse her hair. A second child awaits his turns, while two adults comment on this scene. A street view can be observed through the open door. The Dutch artist and poet Jan Luiken (1649-1712), whose initials are at the lower right, was responsible for drawing and etching this emblem, as well as for the poem that accompanies it (below). The attendant Scripture text is Proverbs 3:11-12.

As the Ear hears dreadful crying,
The Eye, however, approves the cause.

The little child cries, because a good thing is happening to him,
Benevolence results in distress,
He would much rather let the louse grow in peace,
And in the tangle breed other lice:
The Old one does indeed see this great ignorance,
Yet plays the same Children’s game.
He would much rather let the tangle of sinful desires,
Rest quietly in the cunning breeding-nest,
Than endure to his benefit,
The help and service of Divine faithfulness,
By means of his holy Commandments,
A true Comb, to take the hateful wickedness,
Out of the seat of the Soul,
In which evil lived, as in its nest.
Because his flesh may not tolerate the pain,
Caused by cleansing and purifying,
As he doesn’t foresee the consequence,
He is grieved by the struggle and pain,
Which would purify his heart,
If he would be willing to suffer that patiently,
As the good sense of the old ones knows and understands,
That such grief is used for the best,
And must exist, to take away the disaster,
As the fire must remove the dross from impure Gold.

(Translation by Josephine V. Brown, with editorial assistance from William G. Stryker)

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