Throughout the year as we study the spiritual disciplines, we will also study the Proverbs.
An introduction to Proverbs:
Every culture on the planet has expressions that convey wisdom in short, pithy forms.
In English, for example, we have several proverbial sayings. One of the more well-known is the proverb “Think before you act”. This statement cautions us to be careful and to consider all you know about a situation before just jumping into it.
In the book of Proverbs, we have a wonderful collection of God-inspired words of wisdom for us to live by.
The title in the Hebrew Bible is “The Proverbs of Solomon“ (1:1). The book of Proverbs pulls together 513 of the over 3,000 proverbs pondered by Solomon (1 Kin. 4:32; Eccl. 12:9). The word “proverb” means “to be like”; therefore Proverbs is a book of comparisons between common, concrete images and life’s most profound truths. Proverbs are simple, moral statements (or illustrations) that highlight and teach fundamental realities about life.
Solomon was seriously committed to God’s wisdom (2 Chr. 1:8–12) and he offered pithy sayings designed to make men contemplate important aspects of life.
I. Man’s Relationship to God
A. His Trust Prov. 22:19
B. His Humility Prov. 3:34
C. His Fear of God Prov. 1:7
D. His Righteousness Prov. 10:25
E. His Sin Prov. 28:13
F. His Obedience Prov. 6:23
G. Facing Reward Prov. 12:28
H. Facing Tests Prov. 17:3
I. Facing Blessing Prov. 10:22
J. Facing Death Prov. 15:11
II. Man’s Relationship to Himself
A. His Character Prov. 20:11
B. His Wisdom Prov. 1:5
C. His Foolishness Prov. 26:10,11
D. His Speech Prov. 18:21
E. His Self Control Prov. 6:9-11
F. His Kindness Prov. 3:3
G. His Wealth Prov. 11:4
H. His Pride Prov. 27:1
I. His Anger Prov. 29:11
J. His Laziness Prov. 13:4
III. Man’s Relationship to Others
A. His Love Prov. 8:17
B. His Friends Prov. 17:17
C. His Enemies Prov. 19:27
D. His Truthfulness Prov. 23:23
E. His Gossip Prov. 20:19
F. As a Father Prov. 20:7; 31:2-9
G. As a Wife/Mother Prov. 31:10-31
H. As Children Prov. 3:1-3
I. In Educating Children Prov. 4:1-4
J. In Disciplining Children Prov. 22:6
The wisdom literature we read in the proverbs is part of the whole of Old Testament truth; the priest gave the law, the prophet gave a word from the Lord, and the sage (or wise man) gave his wise counsel (Jer. 18:18; Ezek. 7:26). In Proverbs, Solomon “the sage” gives insight into the everyday issues of life. Though it is practical, Proverbs is not superficial or external because it contains moral and ethical elements guiding us to upright living which is the result of a right relationship with God.
The two major themes which are interwoven and overlapping throughout Proverbs are wisdom and folly.
Wisdom, which includes knowledge, understanding, instruction, discretion, and obedience, is built on the fear of the Lord and the Word of God. Folly is everything opposite to wisdom. I pray that as you study the Proverbs throughout this year of our study of the spiritual disciplines that you are blessed to grow in wisdom and practical everyday practice that honors God and brightens your testimony of Christ.
In chapter one of Proverbs, we are given the prologue for the entire book (vs 1-7) and then some great wisdom to work with right out of the gate.
Proverbs 1:1-4 says, “1 The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel: 2 To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, 3 to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; 4 to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth.”
Do you long to know wisdom and insight so that you can deal wisely, righteously, justly with the life God entrusted to you? Solomon opens with a proclamation of his deep desire to be wise and thereby live the best life he can for the Lord.
Proverbs 1:5 says, “Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance,”
Do you make it a priority to “listen, increase in learning and obtain guidance”?
This is a huge one. If we do not intake information through listening to others, learning and seeking guidance we cannot grow in wisdom. It is a simple cause and effect formula of life. You don’t know what you don’t know. So what are you doing to listen, learn and seek counsel? Is this something you do flippantly or purposefully? Is this something you schedule and make a priority?
Is God’s Word, godly preachers and godly leaders a major part of what you are listening to and seeking?
If not, you can gain all the wisdom in the world and still be without the knowledge and wisdom that is eternal life with God.
Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
True knowledge is a right view of God- a right fear and respect for who he is. The biggest enemy we are up against in this life is a belief that we are bigger than we are and God is smaller than He is. True knowledge makes war with this line of thinking and helps us have a right fear and admonition of the Lord. The simplest truth about a fool is that they despise or avoid wisdom and instruction. Don’t be a fool. Seek to grow and mature by learning and listening to godly truth.
Wise words for the beginning season of life:
Proverbs 1:8-9 says, “Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and forsake not your mother's teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.”
Solomon highlights one of the central truths of God’s creation. He designed children to listen to and obey their parents. God’s wise design for the forming of a human being is the instruction and counsel of parents. Unfortunately, this is something that our modern society takes all too lightly both the parents charged by God to instruct and raise their children in the Lord and by children who are given way too much room to disrespect and disobey their parents. May we take this most central component of living and heed God’s design which is for parents to be seriously invested in shaping, training, disciplining and loving their children and for our youth to value the God-ordained source of authority in their lives, their parents.
In Proverbs 1:10-19, Solomon gives a more specific counsel for children taking seriously the warnings of their parents as he speaks of the life danger of following fleshly people into sinful activity and selfish gain. Oh, how our flesh loves to get what it wants and is willing to take it many times despite the cost. This is not only good counsel for our youth but for all of us. Who are you following, listening to, and longing to be like or around? The path that follows the sinful leads to sin and demise. Let us follow the righteous and the wise and the godly and live lives that honor God and make much of his holy name!
I am praying for your journey ahead. The days the Lord will entrust to you are to be taken seriously. The life and opportunity God has given you is a great gift. What are you doing with it? Are you just punching your days or are you growing and maturing in the Lord so that your testimony and opportunity to live for him will be eternally glorifying of the one true King?
Let us be wise. Let us study and listen and grow so that we can impart God-honoring wisdom to those he puts in our path!