The Proverbs of Solomon
I love the Proverbs. This short book has probably been more beneficial to me than any other book I’ve read. It is only twenty-seven pages long in my Bible, but nearly every sentence is packed with meaning. This is a book of wisdom, which is something we don’t think about a lot in our culture. We don’t even really know what it means anymore. People have impressive technical skills. We become experts in our fields. But wisdom? Is that some kind of general knowledge or part of getting older?
Wisdom is realizing the true meaning behind everything. Maybe someone spends their entire life trying to get rich, when all they wanted was to be accepted, or loved, or respected. They wanted something that they thought money would provide, but it didn’t. Replace money with anything else we chase: power, beauty, prestige, etc. Wisdom is realizing the true nature of the situation; getting to the root of the issue.
The Proverbs are difficult to read. The book is repetitive. This is a function of the culture that it was written in. In the ancient Hebrew culture, repetition meant emphasis. “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight” (Proverbs 4:7). You might say that this is saying the same thing, because the words wisdom and insight are interchangeable. The author is trying to stress how important it is to seek wisdom. This is not an obvious point, either; since most people do not seek wisdom.
Modern thinking is that wisdom is something that just happens to you over time. This is not true. You could grow to be one hundred years old and still be a fool. You must chase after wisdom and pursue it like it is more valuable than any other thing you could want (Proverbs 3:15). Wisdom personified in chapter eight says, “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me” (8:17). It also promises that people who hate wisdom, along with being taught and constructively punished, will live to regret it (Proverbs 5:12).
Ladies, the book is written to Solomon’s son, so please be patient with the language. The book is addressed to men, but the insights are equally beneficial to women.
To get the most out of the Proverbs, I recommend reading one chapter a day for the entire month. There are only 31 chapters in Proverbs, and each chapter only takes a few minutes to read. This is a low commitment. I have an audio version of the Proverbs, and it is only takes one hour and thirty-eight minutes to listen to the whole thing (Alexander Scourby reads it well. Look on Youtube). I highly recommend reading the Proverbs (over and over again). I would like to share three excerpts that I have spent a lot of time thinking about:
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7). This is completely counter cultural. Scholarly thinking today is that faith and religion are backwards and need to be removed from scientific and logical thinking. The Proverbs say the opposite. Understanding God is the beginning of understanding everything else. If you believe in a God that created the world, than this should not be a leap in thinking.
“Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city” (Proverbs 16:32). The Proverbs can be difficult to interpret, with its ancient style of language. People do not think about “taking” or conquering a city these days, but consider the analogy for a moment. The author is saying that learning to control yourself is more of an accomplishment than overpowering the people around you. We often want to be in charge of the people around us. Have the humility and wisdom to realize that it is more impressive and more rewarding to conquer yourself. Have you ever met anyone with perfect self-control? This is something that I would like to get better at.
“The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord,” (Proverbs 16:33). This refers to casting lots, which would be the modern equivalent to drawing straws or flipping a coin. What this verse is saying is that nothing is random. Nothing… There are big implications to believing that everything has a meaning.
I would be asking a lot to ask you to read one chapter of the Proverbs a day for a whole year. That means that you would read the book of Proverbs twelve times through, for about three to five minutes a day. These ideas would be stewing in your mind for the entire year. That is the amount of time it takes for you to see the applications applied to your own life. That would be asking a lot, and I won’t ask it. However, I am telling you from experience, that there are huge rewards for sitting in the Proverbs for a long period of time. I want to share the books that have helped me the most, and this is right at the top of my list. If you consider this book as valuable as I do, it will be a pleasure to spend those few minutes a day reading it.