Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Thinking Through Proverbs, Take 1

My second-favorite book I read this year was God's Wisdom in Proverbs by Dan Phillips. Coincidentally, the best was The World-Tilting Gospel, also by Dan Phillips. Basically, you should buy several copies of each, read one and give away the others. If you get nothing else from this post, that's fine, go do that and be blessed.

For those who chose to soldier on, this is the most important thing I learned from GWiP: as long as I can remember, I've been reading Proverbs wrong. I'd always struggled to really benefit from Proverbs because I'd been reading it no differently from an epistle or history book - in large chunks, often several chapters at a time. Every time I read it, it was as part of a reading plan that focused on quantity, getting through the books in a reasonable time. I would read through the Bible in a year (generally 3-4 chapters in a day on those plans) or do the famous "this month has 31 days, read a chapter of Proverbs a day" plan.

The problem is, Proverbs is not meant to be read that way. Rather than reading a large quantity and looking for a unifying theme, following the flow of the argument, or following a narrative account, each Proverb is a standalone nugget of truth to be mined and savored. Don't blow through a whole chapter, barely pausing for a "oh, that's deep" before flying on to the next. Take one proverb, mull it over, think on it some more, imagine the scenario(s) being described (come up with a short story or parable if you can), and work it over for every ounce of truth and application you can glean from it. Talk it over with your family, friends, or Bible study, and work on it some more. You will be amazed at how much application can be made from a short 2-line saying.

Don't believe me? Let's try one together. Proverbs 15:17 - "Better a dinner of herbs where love is / than a fattened ox and hatred with it."

Think about it and post your thoughts in the comments. Some of the applications I thought of include spouse selection/what to train my daughters to value in a husband, workaholism, contentment, helpmate suitable issues, and the meaning of "provision". Let's see what you come up with in those categories, as well as others I missed.


DJP said...

Thanks, Nathan!

Robert said...

How about choosing a church? For kids, choosing who to sit with at lunch or hang out with after school.