I. Introduction to My Favorite Proverbs - What the Book of Proverbs Is, Its Purpose, When and By Whom It Was Written, and Why It Has Great Value for Us
II. First Verses of Proverbs - “The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel, for gaining wisdom and discipline, to perceive words of understanding, to receive the instruction of prudence - righteousness, judgment (justice), and equity, etc. (1:1-3)
A. What are the skills/capacities Proverbs seeks to enhance in us? What are their value and importance, individually and taken together?
B. If we see these skills/capacities together as Wisdom (with a capital w), what does Proverbs seem to suggest is the aim of Wisdom in the Bible?
III. Today’s Sampling of Proverbs
A. “No bird is caught in a net set out before his eyes.” 1:17.
1. This was likely advice a parent would give a child. What is its surface meaning? What does it teach that makes it such a good candidate to be the first “learning proverb” in the book?
2. Can you see alternative meanings?
B. “Hatred stirs up conflict, while love covers up all offenses.” 10:12
1. How does hatred stir up conflict?
2. This verse must have a distinctive meaning for “covers up” because it almost certainly does not mean, for example, that all offenses can be hidden or allowed to occur and remain without consequence.
See 28:13 (“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”) and 27:5. (“Better is open rebuke than hidden love.”)
What do those verses teach?
3. So, what is love in this context, and how does it “cover up” offenses?
C. “A just balance and scales are the Lord’s. All the weights in the bag are His work.” 16:11
1. Do you recall verses in the Bible that relate to balances and scales? What do they teach?
2. How would just balances and scales be God’s? Can you illustrate?
3. Describe what might be the weights in the bag that are God’s work?
4. So, what meaning do we take away from this verse? What’s its lesson for us?
D. “Starting strife is like releasing water, so before a quarrel breaks out, leave off!” 17:14
1. The wisdom here is designed to help us. Can you see how?
2. According to the “flow” of the language, how does strife start up? Why would we focus there? What happens at the start? And of what import is that to us?
3. We want to have robust conversations with others. So, according to the wisdom here, when and how would we be able to do that but also discipline ourselves to avoid strife?
E. “A rich man’s wealth is his fortified city and like a lofty wall – in his imagination.” 18:11
1. Does this wisdom teach against accruing wealth? The Proverbs generally do not teach against wealth per se. How might wealth be helpful and positive?
2. Can wealth, however, be of limited value, if not actually a problem? How?
3. So, where do we tend to end up in our thinking about wealth?
F. ”Bad, bad!” the buyer says, but when he goes away, then he boasts. 20:14
1. What’s the surface meaning?
2. Can you see two or three other possible meanings that are very different?
3. What do you make of this phenomenon of having interpretations that teach different, and perhaps inconsistent lessons?
IV. Conclusion - From our initial encounter with Proverbs today, do you see how we get our greatest benefit from study of them? Is it mostly in the specific learning or teachings from the, so-to-speak, aphorisms? Or does it come principally from something else? What? Describe it.