The famous proverb “An apple a day will keep the doctor away” rings true because we know that eating fruit is good for you (in moderation: too much Pineapple will give you a stingy sensation on the way in AND out!). Proverbs are great literary tools for remembering important information. “Actions speak louder than words” has substance when we need a kick in the pants to act on what we say. “Early to bed early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise” reminds us to be diligent about our sleep habits and their benefits.
The Bible also has some quippy and timelessly applicable sayings in a section titled “Proverbs.” “Proverbs” is a collection of, yup, you guess it, proverbs. These instructions, riddles, and proverbial statements are over two thousands years old and yet their truths are timeless. Who hasn’t heard Proverbs 16:18, which says, “Pride comes before a fall”? Or upon seeing a bratty child, does the phrase “Spare the rod, spoil the child” come to mind? Well that’s from Proverbs 13:24. These proverbs have wiggled their way into our conversations and thoughts, and little did we know they came from the Bible!
I have a hypothesis (not a scientific one because who can quantifiably measure stupidity) that daily reading, study and application of the biblical proverbs will help to keep the “dumb” out of your life. If not completely, at least a markedly substantial amount of drama, frustration, and stress should be eased out of your life as day by day the timeless truths of the “Proverbs” infiltrates your life.
We’ve all had a friend who wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. Wasn’t the brightest crayon in the box. Wasn’t the … you get the picture. They were a few fries short of a happy meal. Maybe you’ve been that person before. That person you knew, is like someone I know, who is like someone else… What do these people have in common? A lack of wisdom would be my supposition.
Wisdom is something that is both learned by education and acquired by experience. Wisdom is knowing to look both ways before crossing the street because of having been told AND from having experienced the fear of nearly being hit by a car. The book of “Proverbs” desires for people to gain wisdom by learning first because learning by experience first often comes with suffering.
Friends, finances, family, fornication are all written about in “Proverbs.” It doesn’t exhaust life’s lessons, but easily touches on every important subject a person will face in their life time.
Money, money, money, money…Money!
As the O’Jays would say…
The “Proverbs” have a lot to say about money. About the wise use of it and about the poor use of it, about being in control of it and about being controlled by it. The overarching theme regarding money in the “Proverbs” is one of working hard, waking early, being a diligent investor, and managing one’s wealth wisely. In fact, wisdom is considered a commodity that should be valued highly; even higher than silver or gold! (Proverbs 3:13-14)
Working tirelessly is highly encouraged in “Proverbs.” Imagine that! A connection between wisdom and working hard.
Lazy people are soon poor; hard workers get rich.
A wise youth harvests in the summer, but one who sleeps during harvest is a disgrace.
A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies has no sense.
Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper.
Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows over time.
Work brings profit, but mere talk leads to poverty!
One major literary device used in “Proverbs” is parallelism (or anti-parallelism). Parallelism speaks one phrase and then echoes it. Anti-parallelism speaks one line, then writes of the antithesis immediately after.
We can see in Proverbs 10:4 (above) is anti-parallelism. Lazy people tend to be poor, but hard workers get rich.
One thing that must be note is that proverbs are not promises, they are principles. Not all hard workers get rich; not all lazy people are poor. However, the world and its order tends to favor those who work hard. Lying around all day usually only contributes to an unhealthy life. Unless you’re the benefactor of an enormous estate you’re going to have to work hard to profit in life. But it is worth it!
I’ll be there for you, when the rain starts to fall…
Friendship is so important in life. When you’re on top of the mountain it is best to rejoice with friends, and when you trudge through the low valley’s of life it is best done with friends. The “Proverbs” are no exception when it comes to friendship. Promoting healthy relationships while dissuading the toxic is an important lesson within.
Proverbs 27:17 is a particular favorite reference of mine in terms of friendship. Whenever I want to know if a friend is worth keeping around I just ask myself if they are making me more sharp. Whether in my career, attitude, personal growth, or otherwise; if a person isn’t sharpening me or me them, the relationship probably isn’t a priority.
Proverbs 27:5-6 speaks heaps of wisdom to this generation. So seldom can a person be corrected without becoming defensive. Even in marriage, how often does your spouse respond positively to the wound of correction? But if the proverb is true, then we can trust the wounds of a friend because we know they are beneficial to us in the long run.
The Big Ol’ F-word…Fornication.
So, who doesn’t love a good convo about fornication?!?! I mean, you’d think from the amount of media that is scandalous we’d love to talk about sex out loud. But truth is, we’re ashamed to address the subject. “Proverbs” is not afraid to talk about sex. Sex is a major topic in “Proverbs” and the wisdom found within needs to be rediscovered by our perverted world.
The writer of the majority of “Proverbs” was King Solomon. He anthropomorphized wisdom and folly to draw a distinction for the his readers of the two paths they might take. Wisdom draws men to herself and to a partner to be married to for life (Proverbs 31:10-31); Folly calls men to uncommitted adulterous relationships that are lackluster and life sapping (Proverbs 7:21-27).
It is no joke that the institution of marriage is a joke to millenials (article by Time). They have low regard for marriage because their parents had a low regard for marriage and odds are good that any children millenials have will refrain from marriage at even higher rates. Marriage in the American model is a prison, but marriage in the “Proverbs” model is favor from the divine.
31 days to a better you!
I’m not in favor of “5 minute abs” or “7 steps to becoming a super-hero” type plans. They tend to over emphasize what can be accomplished within an itty-bitty amount of time. Change takes time. Lots of time and lots of effort.
Becoming wise is not an over night Cinderella story. But I would dare you, yes you (if you made it to the conclusion), to read the Proverbs for 31 days. There are 31 chapters within the book of “Proverbs” found near the middle of the Bible. Read one chapter per day for 31 days and see if you aren’t finding yourself better equipped to handle your money, or work harder, or live peacefully with friends and family. See if “Proverbs” won’t change your life for the better.
And what’s the worse that can happen? I promise you won’t be any dumber than before. Promise!
This blog was written to fulfill the Student Learning Requirement portion of BIB4133, Wisdom Literature.
Please comment on these four questions.
1. What did you like about the student’s presentation?
2. How could the student improve in the way he participated?
3. What other words of encouragement do you have for the student?
4. Name of person commenting and his/her relation to the student: