Bible Reading Plan – May 28 – June 3
Bible Project Reading Plan (May 28-June 3):
Job 32-42; Psalms 1-2, 143-149; Prov 1-6
The book of Proverbs is often neglected by Christians, and to their peril. It contains great practical wisdom for life, and is indeed helpful to form and shape the way that we think. Indeed, it is meant for this! By shaping the way that we think and act, by clothing ourselves with this wisdom, we demonstrate the glory of God through a well-lived life. The book of Proverbs is meant to provide us wisdom that adorns us, so that we stand out even to the world:
Hear, my son, your father’s instruction,
and forsake not your mother’s teaching,
for they are a graceful garland for your head
and pendants for your neck.
Proverbs 1:8 (ESV)
The first chapters of Proverbs (1-9) are taken up by speeches from a father to his son, and by Lady Wisdom, a nice poetic manifestation of wisdom. It is here that we get the best glimpse of what wisdom truly is, and why that wisdom (for lack of a better word) works.
First, it is clear that wisdom is tied to the knowledge of God and apprehending him in fear. The “fear of the Lord” is a refrain running through Proverbs; the phrase itself occurs some 14 times in the book, and forms the foundation for all knowledge and wisdom:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction
Proverbs 1:7 (ESV)
Being fearful of the Lord is contrasted with being a fool; the one who is foolish despises wisdom and insight precisely because they have no fear of the Lord. How can one have wisdom and insight without fearing God? If God has all knowledge and is the only true Good-One, then to deny his word, and fearlessly ignore him, is indeed the highest form of foolishness. After all, it is the fool who says in his heart “there is no God.”
Therefore, wisdom is found in knowing the Lord, listening to him, and living your life accordingly. That is why this book is so biblical, and is not just a compendium of nice life-advice like so many self-help books that are published. There is no wisdom without the knowledge of God; people may try to implement the “way of life” from Proverbs, but without the fear of God will never truly be able to begin. Wisdom is knowing God and fearing him.
Secondly, the wisdom of Proverbs works precisely because God has hard wired his own nature into the working of the world. It is possible to imagine (with John Lennon, I suppose) that there’s no hell below us, and above us only sky; that somehow God is/was completely separated from the world that we live in. In such a scenario, God doesn’t really care about the goings-on in our world, and we are just some accidental by-product of something that he cares much more about. In that case, the wisdom we just spoke of has little importance; you may perhaps say that fearing God is wise, so that if he ever gets around to paying attention you’d be in the clear, but that would just be a guess. Why not try to do what you want, live “foolishly” to get what you want, and take your chances?
Proverbs warns against seeing the world in just this way.
The Lord by wisdom founded the earth;
by understanding he established the heavens;
by his knowledge the deeps broke open,
and the clouds drop down the dew.
Proverbs 3:19-20 (ESV)
The Lord’s ways are the ways of the earth. At times, admittedly, it might seem as though the wicked get away with it, the cruel are able to live long lives, and the selfish run the show. But it will not be so for long: such actions are foolish, for God has baked his own wisdom into the world, and carries out his own good judgments in even the most mundane events, like the rain and the dew.
All of this is not to say, however, that the world isn’t fallen and messed up. It certainly is, and the wisdom of God that should be so evident is missed by so many for precisely this reason. But, while sin in the world fights against God’s wisdom, his wisdom always wins out.
Don’t be a fool; listen to the words of wisdom from God, and live your life accordingly. Read Proverbs and apply it to your life.