Have you noticed that Twitter, FaceBook and social media is full of facts and pithy little sayings. Wise words on how to live life. Memes and quotes that speak to us about wisdom and life hacks. Well the original and most ancient book of pithy wise sayings is the book of Proverbs in the bible. Written by King Solomon who was known for his incredible wealth, wisdom and his writings 969 years BC.
The book of Proverbs is the most practical book in the bible. It is a timeless guide on the art of living. It is basically a manual for living.Eugene Peterson explains it well in his introduction to Proverbs.
“Many people think that what’s written in the Bible has mostly to do with getting people into heaven – getting right with God, saving their eternal souls. It does have to do with that, of course, but not mostly. It is equally concerned with living on this earth – living well, living in robust sanity. In our Scriptures, heaven is not the primary concern, to which earth is a tagalong afterthought.
Wisdom is the art of living skillfully in whatever actual conditions we find ourselves in.
Wisdom has to do with becoming skillful in honoring our parents and raising our children, handling our money and conducting our sexual lives, going to work, and exercising leadership using words well and treating friends kindly, eating and drinking healthily, cultivating emotions within ourselves and attitudes toward others that make for peace.
Threaded through all these items is the insistence that the way we think of and respond to God is the most practical thing we do.
Proverbs concentrates on these concerns more than any other book in the Bible. Attention to the here and now is everywhere present. Proverbs distills it all into riveting images that keep us connected in holy obedience to the ordinary.”
There are three ways that the proverbs are written.
- Taking a long life principal and replacing it with a “bottom line” short phrase you can remember, memorize or take with you.Pride goes before destruction and haughtiness before a fall.
- Two phrases that mean the same thing said differently. One may be more visual.Good news from far away is like cold water to the thirsty. Proverbs 25:25
- Two phrases in complete contrast with each other.The words of the Godly are a life-giving fountain; the words of the wicked conceal violent intentions. Proverbs 10:6 (Ref)
These sayings are still just as fresh and just as wise as they were thousands of years ago.
“Never walk away from someone who deserves help; your hand is God’s hand for that person. Don’t tell your neighbour “Maybe some other time” or “Try me tomorrow when the money’s right there in your pocket”. Proverbs 3:27
I love this one:
“Don’t walk around with a chip on your shoulder, always spoiling for a fight.
Don’t try to be like those who shoulder their way through life. Why be a bully?
“Why not?” you say. Because God can’t stand twisted souls. It’s the straightforward who get his respect”. Prov: 3:30
What about this one, it made me laugh:
Switching price tags and padding the expense account are two things God hates. Prov:20:10
This is a great one:
Love and truth form a good leader; sound leadership is founded on loving integrity. Pro 20:28
If you are looking for a fresh way to explore the book of Proverbs I highly recommend “The Message of Proverbs” by Eugene Peterson.
The Message: The Book of Proverbs is God’s timeless guidance on the best way to live your life presented in the American English you speak in your home and workplace. While clearly pointing to God as the ultimate source of wisdom, Eugene H. Peterson has skillfully taken the original Hebrew and made it more understandable for modern generations. This fresh translation will show you how to take God’s practical, loving instructions for living and apply them to your life now, no matter what your circumstances.
Eugene H. Peterson (b. November 6, 1932), is a pastor, scholar, author, and poet. He has written over thirty books, including Gold Medallion Book Award winner. Peterson is probably best known for The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language, which was written to try to make the original meaning of the Bible more understandable and accessible to the modern reader.
Let finish with two more proverbs from chapter 28:
The wicked are edgy with guilt, ready to run off even when no one’s after them; Honest people are relaxed and confident, bold as lions.
Playing favorites is always a bad thing; you can do great harm in seemingly harmless ways.
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