Wednesday, December 11, 2013

CCXVII - The Book of Proverbs

The Book of Proverbs holds a special place in my heart.  God had blessed me in my career with being placed in positions beyond my training and natural abilities.  I knew I needed help in order to satisfy the demands of these offices.  To do my part I knew I needed not only knowledge, but also wisdom, as these positions involved dealing with all types of people.  ALL types.  I had been taught from my own Bible study plus other sources that God was the Author of all wisdom, much of which He placed in the Book of Proverbs.  Therefore, during much of my career, my daily devotions were from Proverbs.  It helped.  Not only did it help, but I believe my life would have taken a different course had I not given time and focus to these precious words from God, given to us through His servant Solomon and other chosen vessels.  I hope you get as much out of this book as I have through the years.  {Years ago I had this small container shaped like a loaf of bread, titled “Our Daily Bread”.  Placed in the top of it were small cards (about 1”X 3”) on which were printed Proverbs from this holy book.  I kept it in my office.  I would read one or more of these little cards every day at work.  I felt empowered by them.  I don’t remember whatever came of this little “bread loaf”, but I sure wish I still had it.}

I’m not certain how I am to teach this book, but I was uncertain about Psalms as well.  It may seem a bit choppy, but much of it is written that way, maintaining no theme within many large and small sections.  I will again be careful not to jump around out of the order of the book, as a thematic study would make me so inclined. 

The Book of Proverbs has long been considered being authored by Solomon.  I agree that he wrote most of it, but we know that there were at least two other writers, Agur and Lemuel.  These two men wrote chapters 30 and 31 respectively.  Little else is known about them.  The focus of this book is wisdom; common sense dealing with a multitude of subjects in hopes to give the reader guidance in all walks of his/her life.  Proverbs is a series of short statements.  You will find these statements profound, sensible, and easy to understand.  As you read and hopefully reflect on these simple statements, you will realize that although these proverbs deal with common problems, the solutions are Godly, not secular.  One can glean little from them if he/she does not acknowledge the power and glory of our Creator, Who has blessed these sayings as a part of His Holy Scripture.

Wisdom has been defined differently by different groups throughout civilization.  The Egyptians defined it as acquired social and political skills, used to influence people.  The Greeks defined it as learned systematic thought processes taught and handed down through generations.  The Babylonians defined it as a methodology used to gain favor of the various gods they worshiped.   But the Hebrews defined it as stable use of knowledge based upon experience and an abiding respect for God and His commandments.

All of us need wisdom and the sense enough to yield to it.  We need to pray for it and also pray for the ability to recognize wisdom from others when we hear it.  We need wisdom because of the level of difficulty in life.  If you have a job dealing with people in this complex society, you need wisdom and a lot of it.  If you are trying to raise children, you need even more.  If you are trying to navigate through these difficult economic and political times, again you need wisdom to make discernments, as knowledge and advice are often conflicting.  Simple knowledge of facts is not enough.  You need to know how to place that knowledge into the best course of words and actions.  I have observed some very highly educated people who say and do some extremely foolish things.  On the other hand, I have observed some not-so-learned people impart or practice very high levels of wisdom, yielding much fruit.

I urge you to read the entire Book of Proverbs and to read ahead of this study.  Look closely at the first seven verses of this wonderful book.  These verses are actually an introduction to the entire book.  These verses attempt to pay tribute to wisdom and its importance.  After the first six verses herald wisdom, the seventh verse is the actual beginning,  “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…..”  The word “fear” in this context is a wholesome reverence for God and His commandments.  {We are not to live our lives being afraid of God and what He might do to us.  So when we see the word “fear” in the Bible, we must make ourselves aware of the particular context.}  The last part of verse seven is a contrast to the first part, “……..but fools despise wisdom and instruction”.  You will see the “fool” referenced often in this book.  The fool is defined as a person lacking in awareness of God and His character, and consequently lacking in common sense.  Additionally, the fool is a person who rejects knowledge, either out of pride or stupidity.  The fool will generally grow in his disrespect for Godly wisdom unless he makes an effort to repent and change his life in the sight of God.

Next post – Precious Proverbs

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