If you’re a regular to this blog you’ll know that there’s a bit of Christian thought that goes into it, and a bit of whatever silliness I can find around the internet. But I was encouraged recently to do some sort of Bible study-ish stuff on the blog, so I’m going to give it a go.
I write weekly articles for an online Bible study magazine (my back catalogue’s here), and I’m basically going to start reposting the articles I write there over here for ‘Serious Wednesdays’ (as a blatant rip-off of SCL). Anyway, let me know what you think.
For a while now I have used my own version of Professor Grant Horner’s Bible Reading System. One aspect of this daily Bible reading plan is that you read a chapter of Proverbs every single day. It seems that every line is phenomenally challenging, yet at the same time I’m not sure that I often get (or take) the chance to take in what’s written and allow it to significantly change my life. I’ve therefore decided that this week we will begin to work our way through the entire book of Proverbs. Some weeks we’ll take a chunk of verses, whereas others we’ll look at only one verse. I’m confident that whatever portion of the book we look at will challenge us.
The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:
To know wisdom and instruction,
to understand words of insight,
to receive instruction in wise dealing,
in righteousness, justice, and equity;
to give prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the youth—
Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
and the one who understands obtain guidance,
to understand a proverb and a saying,
the words of the wise and their riddles.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.
These opening verses to Solomon’s Proverbs form a good introduction to our series as well. The purpose behind Solomon’s book is given in this passage, and we should have the same aims in our series: if we are simple, our goal should be to gain prudence and understanding. If we already have a measure of wisdom, our aim should be to mature in that.
The bottom line
The question to ask at this stage, therefore, should be: which am I? Am I wise, or am I simple? How will I know if I am a fool? The answer to this is frustratingly simple, but Solomon helps us out by highlighting it in verse 7: ‘The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.’ The beginning of knowlege, the beginning of wisdom (see Proverbs 9:10, Psalm 111:10) is ‘the fear of the LORD;’ without fearing God we cannot even begin to gain understand and discern the world around us. This series exists for two sorts of people.
This series is for you if you do not fear the LORD
Solomon says that the book of Proverbs exists ‘to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth’; if you do not fear the LORD then you have to make a choice. Either admit that you are happy to have not even begun to gain even a basic level of knowledge and will therefore continue as a fool, or make an active choice to leave your folly behind you. If you do not have a fear of the LORD today but like the idea of wisdom, then why not respond at the beginning of this series by praying to Him?
Father in heaven, you are eternally wise, and eternally powerful (Romans 16:27). In your eternal power and wisdom you created me (Psalm 139:14), and I want to respond to you today. I admit that I need you. Thank you that you promise to adopt me as your child (Galatians 4:6); please fill me with the Holy Spirit so that I can begin to gain knowledge and wisdom. Amen.
In short, if you are not a Christian, you cannot even put your foot on the first rung of the ladder of wisdom. The most important thing when building a house is to get the foundations right. If you tried to build a house on a foundation made of jelly, it would not stand up to any kind of difficult time – and wisdom is the same. Without a foundation in the fear of the LORD, your wisdom will be worth nothing if you ever face a time of testing.
This series is for you if you already fear the LORD
I believe this series will really benefit those of us who have received saving grace from God. The book of Proverbs is canned wisdom, and being able to siphon off a healthy dose each week will instruct us in thinking, speaking, and living better lives. And in all of this, let’s guard against pride. Let’s never get to the point where we think that we’re cleverer than anyone else, because at the end of the day our wisdom is only wisdom because of Jesus anyway.
King Jesus, have your way in this series. Speak to us clearly, challenge us boldly, and give us the humility to change. To the glory of your name, amen.