Friday, April 22, 2011

A Proverb a Day

Proverbs 22:17-21

"Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise... that your trust may be in the Lord, I have made them known to you..."

It's easy to think of the book of Proverbs as merely a loose collection of pithy sayings designed to give us practical wisdom for living. I think a lot of people don't quite know what to do with the book. Many Christians have a vague sense of guilt about both Psalms and Proverbs; they believe and accept that both are God's inerrant, and inspired word, but find "getting" the books difficult and therefore boring.

This is unfortunate, because in reality both books are so useful and helpful (of course! 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Understanding the purpose of the books--the authors' mindsets and intentions in what they wrote, and therefore God's intent on inspiring them--helps in drawing one into God's purposes in the wisdom literature of the Bible.

Proverbs tell us that its bottom-line purpose is to instruct its students in the fear of the Lord. The warnings of Proverbs, whether about strange women, too much wine, the temptations of wealth, or hanging out with the wrong crowd, are the admonitions of a loving father warning us away from the edges of the cliffs and toward the healthy fear of the Lord, keeping us on safe paths that lead to life as we traverse the pilgrim way. The warnings are intensely practical because this is where we live. Young men do fall prey to sexual temptation and snares; alcohol does entrap people; immoral and profane people do corrupt the simpleton who keeps company with them for leisurely pursuits.

The Proverbs are like the Law, in that they reveal two ways to live. Fear the Lord, believe the words of this book, and live. Ignore these words, indulge yourself in these ways warned against, and die--perhaps an early, physical death--and risk the loss of your soul.

I've had the habit for several years now of reading the corresponding chapter of Proverbs to the day of the month (thus a quote from chapter 22 today). I can't know, in this life, how life-altering it has been to do so. Nowhere except in Proverbs will one find a warning like, "The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down" (Proverbs 14:1). Those words have brought me up short many a time in my own folly. It's not pretty sometimes; I wish I were a much more gracious doer of God's word and sailed through life with always pure motivations; but honestly, sometimes I just need a brutal warning to bring me skulking back from the edge of disaster. I ain't so great. But the words of the wise, they are.

Read the Proverbs. The one chapter a day habit is a good one and over time, will start to do its work in your thoughts and affections. God designed it to work like that.


jan spooner said...

You post made me want to read proverbs for sure! love you

Crash said...

Thanks Jeri, Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. I appreciate your writing.