Wisdom Book of Proverbs

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
Proverbs 1-4
(~950 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Proverbs 1:1-4): I had never thought about this question, but this passage addresses it: Did the authors of the various books know their writings — and their very lives, for that fact — were for the benefit of others and it would be compiled into one book, the Bible?

A. I would say it is unlikely that the authors of the books we have been studying wrote them for compilation into a single volume, but I suspect that God was at work via the Spirit to make it happen.  As the verses tell us, Solomon and the others who compiled the volume lay out its purpose here: to proclaim universal wisdom for the benefit of future generations.  Later Jews saw great value in that, and incorporated it into what was call the OT.  They saw Proverbs, along with numerous other works, as inspired by God, which is what led them to “keep” the work as part of their collection.

Q. (1:19): This verse cuts to the core.  If we spend our time worrying about money or trying to accumulate more and more of it, then we miss out on the joys of everyday life.

A. Nice summary.

Q. (1:20-33): This talks about you reap what you sew.  But, I always thought that if someone who hasn’t been a follower reaches out to God in desperation would get some help because he’s acknowledging that God is able to save him.

A. I wouldn’t read theological significance into the passage. The author is making a point about the advantages of seeking Wisdom — personified as a woman.  Besides, as we have discussed, sin carries its own consequences, and the sin being discussed at this point is ignoring what Wisdom is trying to teach you (be wise, not sinful, etc.).  Ignoring Wisdom is not a death sentence — we can clearly state that God is merciful — but it can prove costly.

Q. (2:1-22): I can think of two ways to get wisdom: pray for it like Solomon did and read and absorb the lessons of the Bible.  I do feel I’m getting wiser from reading God’s Word.  I just feel that I have a better understanding of what He wants me to be and that it heavily influences my thoughts and actions to where they are not mine anymore, but God’s.  I have a long ways to go, but I definitely see how I can be more fulfilled through God.  Rob, are there any other ways to get wisdom?

A. Sure.  One of them would be read the works of those who have written on the Bible and studied it over the centuries, from Justin Martyr, to Augustine, to Jerome, Basil and Benedict, Luther and Calvin, Wesley (my personal favorite), and even great modern souls like C. S. Lewis, Dietrich Bonheoffer, Thomas Merton, Dallas Willard, or Martin Luther King Jr.  Exploring the writings of these followers of Jesus can impart incredible wisdom to us.

O. (3:1-4): I have also been more aware of others lately and how my actions can or cannot influence them.  By engaging with someone on a positive note should brighten their day a little bit. (I don’t know why caring human interaction has a positive effect on people.  I suppose we may learn about this later?)  I know it does mine on both ends – when people engage me and when I engage with them.  Reaching out to people and vice versa makes me feel good.

O. (3:5-6): My daughter learned this verse in Kindergarten, thus I did too.  It sums up this whole intro to Proverbs.

Q. (3:9-10): As I have said previously, if I won the lottery, I would give quite a bit of the money away.  I don’t even bother buying a lottery ticket unless God tells me the winning numbers.  But, if I did play and won, getting large amounts of money, I would feel guilty holding on to it because I feel God would want me to help others.  Yet, here it says that if we follow his path, he will “fill our barns.”  So, should we give away our wealth or just listen for God’s direction?

A. First of all, it doesn’t say how He will fill them.  I can tell you it most likely will NOT be via the lottery, which tends to have a horribly detrimental effect on the people who win it — google lottery curse if you want to see.  But generally, I feel that if God chooses to bless you with wealth in whatever way, He will be clear about what He desires for you to do with it, if you are willing to listen.

Q. (3:33-35): This is a hard question to ask, but … well, are the wickeds’ fates doomed?  Can God work in their lives without any requests from his followers?  Or, are His followers solely responsible for bringing the wicked to Him?

A. One of the great mercies that Scripture makes clear is that we are not responsible for the lives of other people.  We are only responsible for ourselves.  That may sound cold, but ultimately, we are not capable of “saving” other people, whether they are “wicked” in our eyes or not.  God is in the business of saving souls, so leave that part to Him.  You’ll sleep better at night if you are not carrying another person’s salvation on your shoulders — I promise you!

The wicked are not necessarily doomed: in His mercy God may reach out to them in a non-fatal way to get their attention, but of course, He is not required to.  One of the coolest thoughts I ever heard a pastor share was the idea of awakening in Heaven and exclaiming “you’re here?”  Never underestimate the power of God’s grace at work.  Without it, wicked or not, we are all lost.

Q. (4:16): This verse doesn’t seem possible to me.  I thought most people had a “reality-check” conscious — if someone does something wrong, although they may enjoy it, most people would know it’s wrong in their heart and feel guilty for it.  Verses like this help me feel that I’m in check and doing the right things.  I would be just the opposite: If I wronged someone, I would not be able to sleep.

A. If you have spent years ignoring that little voice inside you that says “you are wrong and you need to seek forgiveness (or forgive, or repent, etc.),” eventually it stops talking or we can no longer hear it.  I suspect that’s the idea that the writer has in mind: that of a criminal so hardened that they can’t sleep at night unless they do something bad.  This is another verse to not read very literally.  It is hyperbole.  Proverbs is full of it, so hang on!

For further information: How to read the book of Proverbs, https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-best-discoveries-begin-as-problems

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Tomorrow’s reading: Proverbs 5-7