Intro to Proverbs
INFORMATION + APPLICATION = TRANSFORMATION.
Terry has used the above saying for three weeks in a row. Can you give a personal example of how this has worked in your own life? What was the information? How did you start to apply it? What made it difficult? What did transformation look like?
Note: Wisdom requires application, not mere information.
Our objective today is to understand how to read and apply the book of Proverbs so we can maximize its impact on our lives. We want to understand how to accurately read and apply Proverbs because wisdom requires application, not mere information. Today we look at the key image—the path of wisdom or the path of folly—for understanding the book and understanding life itself.
Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you. Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, who leave the straight paths to walk in dark ways, who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways. It will save you also from the adulteress, from the wayward wife with her seductive words, who has left the partner of her youth and ignored the covenant she made before God. For her house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead. None who go to her return or attain the paths of life. Thus, you will walk in the ways of good men and keep to the paths of the righteous.
Begin by reading the passage above and have the group summarize the passage in their own words. What is the main point? What is being compared? What are we to take away?
Question: Terry had mentioned that the word “path” occurs over 25 times in the first 9 chapters of Proverbs and that it is implied throughout the whole book. What is the word path metaphorically describing?
Answer: Path is an excellent picture of one’s actions in life. It implies a current point of origin (where you are now), a destination (where you will end up), and key transitional moments (forks in the road).
Question: Look back at our passage, what is the path’s theme? Discuss your answer with group members.
Answer: Right path, good path, wise path….that leads to life / Wrong path, bad path, foolish…that leads to death.
The path is a key principle for understanding Proverbs and life…a path with multiple forks in the road…many dangers…but many opportunities as well.
Questions: Terry also said that in the first 9 chapters, we would encounter the metaphor of two women, who were they? What were they calling out for the young men to come and do? What does each of these women stand for?
Answers: a. Lady Wisdom and Lady Folly. b. Come and eat—to come and have a relationship with them. c. In Proverbs, God is seen in this metaphor of “Lady Wisdom”…we don’t worship wisdom…we worship God…wisdom follows worship of God. Woman folly also has her house on the highest point of the city…but she represents the false gods and goddesses that tempted Israel away from the true God.
Discussion: Now, read the following passages below and discuss the differences you see between the women.
Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn out its seven pillars. She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; she has also set her table. She has sent out her maids, and she calls from the highest point of the city. “Let all who are simple come in here!” she says to those who lack judgment. “Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways, and you will live; walk in the way of understanding”… “For through me your days will be many, and years will be added to your life.” 9:1-6, 11
The woman Folly is loud; she is undisciplined and without knowledge. She sits at the door of her house, on a seat at the highest point of the city, calling out to those who pass by, who go straight on their way. “Let all who are simple come in here!” she says to those who lack judgment. “Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!” (sexual overtones here, illicit, forbidden…sweet) But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of the grave. Prov. 9:13-18
Note: Here are some examples. The destinations of folly and wisdom…God/Idolatry…are dramatically different…life and death. Wisdom and folly…are calling for the intimacy of relationship…to wrap our hearts and lives around them. To walk the good path is to enter into and maintain an intimate relationship with Christ…the wisdom of God.
Question: Terry stated: The wise path…the path of faithfulness…is love God, love people. What did he mean by this?
Answer: Think back to terry’s comments on Mark 12:28-31 / Luke 16:13. We were designed to love God first. We were designed to love Him by loving others in committed community. We can do this by walking wisdom’s path. This is the path of wisdom. It results in skillful living…it results in a thriving life…again, if you pay attention…this is self-evident.
Question: What if we take the wrong path, what can we do?
Answer: We can stop and get back on the right path. God has given us his resources to walk the wise path, avoid the foolish path, return to the good path when we need to….these are described in Proverbs.
Discuss the following statement:
Wisdom says: Walk this way–when you lose vision for faithfulness, don’t walk a different way, but rather regain your vision. Walk this way, when you get bored, when you want excitement, cry out to God, and find your life in him.
Now read proverbs 2:1-10 and listen to what it says about walking wisdom’s path. See if you can Identify the different things we must do as we walk the path and what the result will be if we do.
My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
Want to endure, keep passion alive? Then Walk the path of wisdom!
That is faithfulness…that is passion and pace.
Passion not as “feeling good” but the good pursuit of Jesus, the wisdom and power of God.