As the summer officially begins, I would like to start a fresh focus for our weekly Spot of Grace. I don’t know about you, but I am regularly reminded of two weaknesses in my life: I need to grow in patience and I need to grow in wisdom. I pray that through our times together over the coming weeks we will grow in wisdom, which will, in turn, produce growth in patience.
The book of Proverbs is a remarkable book. Inspired by God to provide wisdom, the book of Proverbs is truly a gift from God. Let’s get some context as we start this series: Proverbs are usually simple, concise, pithy statements, illustrations or contrasts. The book of Proverbs was written, in part, for anyone who wants to be wise.
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7
The book of Proverbs is practical. God has provided this book to answer the basic question, “How should I live my life?” The primary author of Proverbs is Solomon. As Solomon was crowned king, he sought the Lord for wisdom. Not riches or acclaim, but wisdom. (You can read all about it in 2 Chronicles 1:8-12 and 1 Kings 4:29-34).
I find that at times, the book of Proverbs can be hard to read through. The reason many of us feel that challenge is because Proverbs is wisdom literature. It isn’t written like a book of narration or like a book of prophecy. Proverbs are mostly single verse nuggets. As you read Proverbs, you can read a single chapter that touches on subjects such as attitudes and behaviors, pride and humility, marriage and friendship. For me, the challenge of reading Proverbs was greatly changed by a book I was given. This particular book on Proverbs organized the verses by topic. It enabled me to see all the proverbs that cover each particular subject grouped together, which I found very helpful.
In the Spot of Grace this summer, we are going to look at a different topic each week and pray that God would give us increased wisdom.
Think about Proverbs being a bit like a daily vitamin. None of us could live alone on vitamins, but the book of Proverbs is to be taken in small doses in order to allow us to digest and understand all its wisdom and to see how it fits in with the rest of the Scripture.
As I close, I’ll share with you a few tips for studying Proverbs from ‘Practicing Proverbs’ by Richard Mayhue.
- No Proverb is ever intended to be exhaustive.
- Proverbs needs to be understood as wisdom literature and context (largely given to the young men in the king’s court), language and comparison to the rest of Scripture should all be considered.
- Proverbs needs to be understood in the culture and setting in which it was written.
- Proverbs needs to be understood as generalizations, not as unconditional promises; for example, Proverbs 22:6, is not a guarantee.
- In reading Proverbs special attention needs to be given to figures of speech or illustrations, for example Proverbs 21:9.
- Be careful not to use Proverbs for personal, selfish gain, but for gaining in Godly wisdom and maturity to bring glory to God.
- Proverbs is best read in little pieces or in subject order.
- Understand this wisdom is from God.