By Justin Rossow
A Bit of Wisdom about Proverbs
A proverb is simply a pithy saying; something short and sweet that carries a word of wisdom. But proverbs are more than catch phrases, they inform a particular way of life. As a part of the American culture, we have some pithy sayings that most people know. Some came from Ben Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac, some from elsewhere. Can you complete the following?
A penny saved is . . .
The early bird gets . . .
God helps those who . . .
If you were raised in an American culture, chances are you could complete those sayings. But they are more than just memorable phrases, they also help shape how our culture understands appropriate ways of life. “If it feels good, do it,” is a way of life. “It’s a free country!” is a statement about what we find acceptable. In a world of sound bites and slogan marketing, people live by proverbs. The question remains, what proverbs will you live by?
In the Bible, a proverb is a general truth arrived at from godly observation that can direct future action when considered in the fear of the Lord. Some wise and godly people, most notably, Solomon, took a look around and said, “Hey! This is kind of how the world works!”
Proverbs, even Biblical proverbs are not meant to cover 100% of the situations in life. They just describe what usually is happening under normal circumstances. In fact, proverbs are not only wise sayings, they require wisdom to apply them to the right situation. Sometimes proverbs even seem to contradict each other. Can you fill in the blanks of these famous (and non-biblical) proverbs?
“He who hesitates . . .” BUT “Look before . . .”
“Absence makes the heart . . .” BUT “Out of sight, . . .”
Obviously, these proverbs can’t be universally true. In fact, proverbs are never intended to be universally true! That’s why it takes wisdom to apply them to the right situation! “He who hesitates is lost,” doesn’t always apply. Sometimes you have to “look before you leap.” For the Biblical authors, the wisdom it takes to apply these wise sayings to real life is centered in the relationship with Yahweh. In fact, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”
Wise Up Sermon Series Starts Aug 4
For five weeks beginning August 4th, 2013, the St. Luke multi-site will be taking a closer look at five proverbs found in various places in the Bible. Together we will explore proverbs as pearls of wisdom, gems of godly reflection on what life is like and how we can live in the fear of the Lord. Proverbs are given to us to help shape our actions and our expectations.
You can take a gem and look at it, study it, examine all the facets. But if you pick that gem up and look through it, the world looks different. Proverbs are like that – you need to study the proverb to see what it actually means, like putting a gem under a microscope. But the proverb becomes powerful when you pick it up and use it as a lens through which to view you life—your past, your future, even your Savior.
So that’s what we are going to do over the next five weeks – take five gems of biblical wisdom, five proverbs from different places in the Bible, and study them first for what they mean. But then we will use these gems as different lenses that show us more about our experience, our faith, and what living out that faith can look like.