Monday, June 1, 2009

Proverbs 1: 1-7

Today's Thought Questions:
  1. Are the Proverbs still important, valid, useful?
  2. What is your understanding of "the fear of the Lord" (vs. 7) and why do we need it to embrace Proverbs?
  3. What is a fool and can a believer be a fool?
Solomon provides us with an introduction to the book, elaborating on what will be learned through reading the Proverbs. Note the verbs: "To know; to discern; to receive instruction in; to give prudence...knowledge and discretion." This is definitely a teaching book, and for anyone seeking knowledge about God and what He's talking about, you feel optimistic that you will learn something--and to your gain...if you are "wise" (vs 5) and "of understanding."

Adding that caveat almost makes it seem as though the book is for the already learned. But, that's not what Solomon was suggesting. He was, however, saying that we have a choice in coming to our reading of this book. We can be wise and of understanding if we approach with an attitude that we want and are willing to learn. Or, we can approach as "fools" (vs 7), reading the book for reasons other than to learn, such as
merely to follow our peers, to refute or condemn God's Word, or to read with the intent of saying that we have read and not to put such words into action. All of which leads Solomon to say, "Fools despise wisdom and instruction."

For me, verse 6 was probably the most curious of the bunch we read for today:

"To understand a proverb and a figure, The words of the wise and their riddles."

The notes in my study Bible say the following: "Proverbs seeks to sharpen the mind by schooling one in 'parabolic speech' and 'dark sayings' [riddles, puzzles or hard questions], that need reflection and interpretation. Study of the Scriptures is sufficient to provide the wisdom for the perplexities of life."

For me, this means that we have the capacity to not just understand the design of the proverb itself--which can be a puzzle if you've read some before--but that through Scripture, we can truly understand the wisdom behind the proverb. Remember that Jesus often spoke in parabolic speech--parables! Literally, at its root, parable means "to throw beside." The proverbs, like Jesus' parables in the New Testament, are designed to set up contrasts, to explain principles in light of examples.

Remember, too, what Jesus said about parables:

"'He who has ears, let him hear.' The disciples came to him and asked, 'Why do you speak to the people in parables?' He replied, 'The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables: 'Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: 'You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.'"
--Matthew 13:9-14 (New International Version)

As we go forward in our study, let us choose not to be fools (as believers can be fools in making the poor choice not to accept God's wisdom) and to seek the Spirit's guidance in searching the Scriptures for His wisdom.

And where do we begin? With the "fear of the Lord." (vs 7)

Per my S.B., "The fear of the Lord is a state of mind in which one's own attitudes, will, feelings, deeds and goals are exchanged for God's." That requires us to come to God with true reverence for who He is. We cannot hope to acquire knowledge, and thus Godly wisdom, if we do not come to Him first. And to come to Him requires "fear"--awe, honor, admiration, submission.

The root of 'fear' comes from 'peril,' which, at its root, means "to try, risk, come over." God says, "Try me. Come over and see Who I am. Take the risk." He doesn't say learn who He is and then come over. He says "Come" first. As we come, we are changed, and the rest, including His knowledge and wisdom, will follow.

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Tomorrow's Scripture Focus and Thought Questions:

Proverbs 1: 8-19

  1. From where do we receive instruction about God?
  2. What distracts us from receiving instruction?

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Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation, specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB). I will quote other sources if used in a post.
I also use Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (with notes from the King James Version).


The Patterson 5 said...

I am thankful for Proverbs as it teaches and shows us how to handle all situations in daily life. It gives us the wisdom Soloman prayed for! Gaining this wisdow requires disipline and intentional training..meaning that we have to read and study them! Spending time in God's Word every day. We must fear God...meaning we must realize that we are dependent on God for EVERYTHING inclusing knowledge and wisdom...the Lord is the basis of all's His creation! I'm thankful we can go to the source and learn!
A foolish person feels he is independent and has no need for God. As a Christian I am foolish when I try to take things (even small matters) on with out God. The ways I spend my time can also be foolish when I fill my day with trivial earthly matters and do not spend time on eternal things...time in God's word,time worshiping God, time in prayer and time serving God.

Now Sue, I can't wait to read what you wrote!

Chatty Kelly said...

Wow, Sue, right off the bat you mention if we're just doing this study to follow our peers or to check it off our reading list we're "fools." Zowie! Iron sharpending iron today!

We must seek God whole heartedly. "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (Jer 29:13)

Fear of the Lord is submissive reverence. Not only hearing, (reading) but doing what his word says. That is the beginning of knowledge.

Carmen Gamble said...

When I was first saved, someone told me to read one proverb everyday, if nothing else. I did that for three years, and so this book formed the foundation of my faith. It gave me an ability to realize when something was false, even though in my youth I didn't always know why it was false. It was like a still small voice that guided me. God's Word is alive indeed!

I love the fact that Solomon invites everyone to read: the unlearned, the simple, the foolish, the young, and even the wise. We can all learn something, no matter who we are, and none of us have arrived. How exciting that is to know that we are just beginning and that there's so much to look forward to!

This bible study is a wonderful idea. I look forward to checking in. Thanks, Sue!

Edie said...

Hey Sue! Thanks for hosting this! I just recently read Proverbs so I appreciate going through it with dialog this time. :)

According to Vines, a fool is someone who lacks sense. I like your defintion also, one who is morally deficient. Proverbs 1:7 says that fools despise wisdom and discipline. It is contrasted with the previous statement that says "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge".

The prerequesite for wisdom is the fear of the Lord. So if a person despises wisdom, he has no fear of the Lord. He has no awe or reverence for the Lord, therefore he cannot be a believer.

That's not to say that believers don't sometimes behave *foolishly*. But a believer will heed the conviction of the Holy Spirit (wisdom), whereas an unbeliever will reject the counsel of the Holy Spirit (foolish).

What I see from this verse is that ALL wisdom and knowledge come from God. A fool rejects God and His wisdom, but a person who stands in awe of God, is open to receiving His wisdom.