Sermon Notes & Slides
To Understand a Proverb
Tony Chute, Interim Pastor
Overview: The book of Proverbs is a collection of sayings written and collected by Solomon, whose wisdom was given by God and was designed to point others to God. As a whole, the book of Proverbs teaches us about life in the real world, instructing us how to get ahead without breaking the rules. It addresses the head and the heart, the old and the young, and is for the simple and the wise. Although wisdom is a free gift from God, there is a requirement in order for wisdom to be gained—the fear of the Lord. This requirement is necessary because all Proverbs are rooted in the revelation of God thus reflecting the character of God, which can only be appreciated by the people of God as they point us to the Son of God.
01. Proverbs are not promises that we claim but wisdom that we apply; therefore results are typical but not guaranteed.
02. Proverbs that are plain require common sense; Proverbs that are obscure require mental effort; Proverbs that are contradictory require appropriate application.
Questions For Discussion & Discovery
1. Have you ever read through the entire book of Proverbs? If so, did you notice a pattern occurring within the first nine chapters that differs from the remaining chapters? How does the lengthier pattern in Proverbs 1-9 motivate and encourage one to pursue wisdom? How do the remaining chapters provide specific examples in applying wisdom?
2. Compare the beginning of Proverbs with the end of Ecclesiastes and note the resultant tone of each book. Proverbs 1:7 begins with the fear of the Lord whereas Ecclesiastes 12:13 ends with the fear of the Lord. How does the placement of the fear of the Lord at the beginning of Proverbs shape the book as a whole and its approach to life? How does life lived apart from the fear of the Lord shape Ecclesiastes? Why do both books insist that the fear of the Lord is necessary for the good life?
3. A number of Proverbs are not unique to Solomon, but rather come from other Ancient Near Eastern sources (see 22:17-24:22, which are patterned after an Egyptian text The Instruction of Amenemope). Note too that a number of Proverbs might be categorized as common sense (see 12:11). How does the doctrine of general revelation help us to appreciate the various streams of wisdom? How can we as believers use such wisdom for kingdom purposes or evangelistic opportunities?
4. What accounts for the fact that Solomon was the wisest man of his time and yet he sinned grievously against the Lord (see 1 Kings 3-11)? What does his pattern of success and failure suggest to us regarding the importance of keeping our hearts pure as we continue to grow in the knowledge and fear of the Lord? Should we be satisfied with learning about the Lord without living for the Lord?
5. The following verses describe wisdom in relation to Jesus (Matthew 11:19; Mark 6:2; Luke 2:40-42; 11:29-31; and 1 Corinthians 1:30). Reflect and pray over these verses, asking the Lord to help you pursue wisdom and to point you to Christ in the process of gaining wisdom.
For Further Reading: Derek Kidner, The Proverbs: An Introduction and Commentary (InterVarsity Press, 1964).