Proverbs (June 3 – 10)
If you have teens in your life somehow you may be familiar with the phrase (or one similar), “I’m 15, I know everything!” You might even remember it from your own teenage years if you have not already removed those terribly mistaken and errant memories and views from your brain. There are numerous times when I’ve heard this from my own kids, from their friends, even from younger military members who are still in their teenage years. I almost always laugh when I hear it, and I’m usually pretty good about keeping my laughter mostly to myself. And I can’t imagine how often high school teachers hear this phrase!
A young person may feel that they have life experience, that they are able to make sound decisions, and that they understand how the world works. As we grow older, we start to realize that we don’t really know everything. Later in life we might reach the point where we feel that we actually know nothing at all, and looking back we might need to apologize to thousands of people with whom we’ve had “discussions” and were absolutely sure of the answer! We might have found some wisdom along the path of life.
Putting it into a spiritual perspective, wisdom is the application of knowledge to help us avoid sin. In other words, there is great value to wisdom, and much danger in sin. Most of the proverbs in this book are attributed to Solomon, but we do know he uttered over 3,000 proverbs, so many are not recorded here. What we do have, however, tells us about the general patterns of life, how people act and react, how God deals with us, what mistakes and follies we might be able to avoid, and how life can be better for us.
The book starts off with an extended teaching about wisdom. Solomon starts off telling his readers, and his kingdom, that the beginning of wisdom is first found in respecting, honoring, and worshipping the Lord. He goes on to talk about qualities of wisdom and its importance to us. In the latter part of chapter 8, we can clearly see that wisdom is personified as a divine figure at the side of God the Father – Jesus Christ, the perfect embodiment of wisdom. Even in this book, just like every other, we see a picture of the coming Messiah!
As we get into the main part of Solomon’s proverbs in Chapters 10-22, we need to remember what a proverb is and what it is not. A proverb is not an iron-clad if-then statement or promise. It is a statement on a single topic that presents a general truth about life. When heeded together, proverbs protect a person from the worst associated with sin and folly.
For example, in 10:27 we see that “the fear of the Lord prolongs life, but the years of the wicked will be short.” Does this mean that someone who does not lead a long or full life is not a believer? Or that a wicked person who lives into their 90s is really a believer? Not at all. This is a general truth about life – things generally go well for us in the long run when we are on the Lord’s side, when we follow and fear him. And the actions of the wicked can shorten their years. Think about some sins that might have a consequence such as that. When we over work ourselves and don’t honor God’s principle of Sabbath rest, our bodies do not react well. The overwork and stress may cause us to knock a year or two off of our life. We could repeat this for a number of scenarios as well.
Or Proverbs 17:17, “A friend loves at all times, a brother is born for adversity.” When we seek to know who are friends are, we need to keep this advice in mind. Those closest to us will be with us through all sorts of adversity, brother seems to be the “bff” of Solomon’s time. And when we feel unloved or betrayed consistently by someone who we thought was a friend, this tells us to reevaluate that view since the “friend loves at all times,” through thick and thin. That doesn’t mean we like what they do, nor that they always make us feel good, but they do love at all times.
Some days we may feel like we are in our teens and we know everything again. It is those days in particular that we need to jump back and delve into the wisdom contained in this book. We don’t know much compared to Solomon, and his wisdom can serve us well when we are full of ourselves. Now to just remember that in the moment!
How do you see God’s grace in Proverbs? What does Solomon write that ignites a fire for loving God in your heart? How about Christ? Where do you see Christ in the Proverbs? What do you learn about yourself from them? How much do you need God’s grace? How have you seen His grace in your life? How have you seen His grace this week, or even today?
See y’all Sunday!