Devotions in the book of Proverbs – Introduction

Starting a new book of the Bible with the devotional blogs.  Usually, I post about one of these a week as part of our effort to encourage people to read the Bible for themselves and find application to life.  Starting next week we will use the Old Testament book of Proverbs.  This blog is an introduction to the book with some background information.  My encouragement to you is that you not only read through these weekly blog posts, but that you also read the chapter of the Bible the blog is based on.  Hopefully it will assist in your growth as a follower of Jesus and in your understanding and use of the Bible.

Making wise decisions is one of the most important skills a person can have in life.  With so many options in life, all people have to be careful with choices they make.  Some decisions seem minor, such as the type of clothes to wear or what to have for breakfast.  Other decisions can have life-changing effects.  Decisions about sex, money, friends, attitudes, and drugs/alcohol are so important, because one mistake can ruin a person’s life, or worse result in death.
Since the dawn of time, parents have been trying to help their kids  make wise decisions, and have been trying to give advice on which way kids should go.  And, since the dawn of time, some  have been following their parents (and God’s) advice, and some have not.  The results at times have been tragic.

Solomon was the wisest man alive.  He was King David’s son (you know, David & Goliath, David & Bathsheba).  He served as the king of Israel after his father died.  He was known as the most wise king Israel ever had, and was famous throughout the world for his wisdom.  At one time, God appeared to Solomon and told him that He would give him anything he wanted.  Solomon could have asked for money, or power, or popularity.  But Solomon asked that God would give him wisdom.  God granted his request.

Yet, the sad thing, Solomon had this wonderful wisdom.  But in the middle years of his life, Solomon made a lot of unwise choices.  He made mistakes with women, with wine, with attitude.  But God allowed Solomon to learn from his mistakes.  Now, Solomon wants to pass his wisdom on to others.  Specifically, I think Solomon wants to pass wisdom on to his teenage sons and daughters, so they would not make some of the mistakes that he had. The book of Proverbs are these wise sayings.  All but two chapters were either written or compiled by Solomon.

What is a Proverb?  Simply put, a Proverb is a wise saying.  They come in many forms.  Most of them are short, pithy statement about wise living.  Many of the Proverbs are poems.  Others are parallel statements (The wise man will do this, but the foolish man will do this).  In some of the chapters, each verse will be  a different Proverb, and will be unrelated to the previous and following verse.  In other chapters, there is a continuous thought.  Proverbs are some of the most practical statements in all of Scripture.  They are easily applied to every day life.

The book of Proverbs has things to say about just about every area of life.  But they can be grouped in 3 categories.  Some Proverbs speak about people’s relationship with God, and call for a life of faith, righteousness, and fear to God.  Other Proverbs deal with a person’s relationship with himself, and call for him to be a person of character, self-control and wisdom.  The third category is Proverbs that address our relationship to other people.

The main issue – The main point of the book of Proverbs is seeking wisdom.  So to understand Proverbs, we must begin by understanding wisdom.  In the Bible, wisdom is much more than being smart.  It is much more than being able to figure out riddles or problems.  It is much more than being able to get good grades in school, going to a good college, being the best at one’s job, or knowing how to make a lot of money.  Wisdom is the ability to properly apply God’s Word and God’s will to the every day decisions in life.  It learning God’s best in life, and then doing it.

The promise of Proverbs is that the wise (those who seek God’s will and obey Him) will experience the good stuff of life, including longer life (9:11), prosperity (2:20-22), joy (3:13-18), and the goodness of God.  On the other hand, the fool (the one who doesn’t care what God has to say) will suffer shame, defeat, and death.  In the long run, a person demonstrates if he or she is wise or a fool by the choices he or she makes.

How to read Proverbs – Isn’t it funny that there are 31 chapters in Proverbs, and most months have 31 days (hmmmm, a coincidence?).  Maybe God intended this as the perfect book to read in a month.  While it will take us 30 weeks or so to cover all the chapters in the blog, it is a good habit to read the book or Proverbs in a month once or twice a year.  I will be choosing a single proverb or two in each chapter and writing some application, but as you read there may be others that speak to your life condition and needs.  Another way to read Proverbs in your personal Bible reading is to read other books of the Bible, but read one Proverb (one verse or small section of verses) and meditate on that Proverb during the day.  Proverbs are also a good way to start each day.

As with all teaching sections of the Bible, the solution is the Gospel.  Every person who reads Proverbs will find places where his or her life does not mesh with God’s purpose resulting in the realization that we sin and need both forgiveness from our failures and empowerment to become the person God desires.  Jesus’ death on the cross overs our forgiveness.  Our response to that is confession and repentance.  When you come across a Proverb that exposes your sin, look to Jesus as the sin-bearer, confess your sinfulness to God, and repent.  But we also need to realize that the resurrection of Jesus gives victory and Christ has given us the Holy Spirit to give us power and boldness in living.  When we see commands in the Proverbs and then feel the tension between the person I want to be and the person I am, the path to change is by trusting in Christ’s power to be in me what I cannot be on my own.

In the long run, the book of Proverbs is one of the most applicable books in the Bible.  It will address all kinds of issues you face, and challenge you to seek what God wants and to do it.  If you live your life following the wisdom of Proverbs, your life will be blessed in ways you never would have imagined.

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