Proverbs 1

This is written by Matt Coombs. He is one of the leaders at St Mary's and is married to the lovely Pip.

Proverbs 1

Purpose and theme
1 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:

2 for gaining wisdom and instruction;
    for understanding words of insight;
3 for receiving instruction in prudent behaviour,
    doing what is right and just and fair;
4 for giving prudence to those who are simple,
    knowledge and discretion to the young -
5 let the wise listen and add to their learning,
    and let the discerning get guidance -
6 for understanding proverbs and parables,
    the sayings and riddles of the wise.

7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
    but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Prologue: exhortations to embrace wisdom

Warning against the invitation of sinful men
8 Listen, my son, to your father's instruction
    and do not forsake your mother's teaching.
9 They are a garland to grace your head
    and a chain to adorn your neck.

10 My son, if sinful men entice you,
    do not give in to them.
11 If they say, 'Come along with us;
    let's lie in wait for innocent blood,
    let's ambush some harmless soul;
12 let's swallow them alive, like the grave,
    and whole, like those who go down to the pit;
13 we will get all sorts of valuable things
    and fill our houses with plunder;
14 cast lots with us;
    we will all share the loot'-
15 my son, do not go along with them,
    do not set foot on their paths;
16 for their feet rush into evil,
    they are swift to shed blood.
17 How useless to spread a net
    where every bird can see it!
18 These men lie in wait for their own blood;
    they ambush only themselves!
19 Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain;
    it takes away the life of those who get it.

Wisdom's rebuke
20 Out in the open wisdom calls aloud,
    she raises her voice in the public square;
21 on top of the wall she cries out,
    at the city gate she makes her speech:

22 'How long will you who are simple love your simple ways?
    How long will mockers delight in mockery
    and fools hate knowledge?
23 Repent at my rebuke!
    Then I will pour out my thoughts to you,
    I will make known to you my teachings.
24 But since you refuse to listen when I call
    and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand,
25 since you disregard all my advice
    and do not accept my rebuke,
26 I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you;
    I will mock when calamity overtakes you –
27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm,
    when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind,
    when distress and trouble overwhelm you.

28 'Then they will call to me but I will not answer;
    they will look for me but will not find me,
29 since they hated knowledge
    and did not choose to fear the Lord.
30 Since they would not accept my advice
    and spurned my rebuke,
31 they will eat the fruit of their ways
    and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.
32 For the waywardness of the simple will kill them,
    and the complacency of fools will destroy them;
33 but whoever listens to me will live in safety
    and be at ease, without fear of harm.'

Reflection

Over August we're going to read through the book of Proverbs. There are 31 days in August and 31 chapters in Proverbs, so we'll be putting them up on Saturdays and Sundays too.

Proverbs, as you probably know, is a collection of Proverbs (duh!) and sayings from various sages. In the ancient world kings and rulers would collect wisdom like currency and share it with one another. So much of what is in this work can be understood as natural wisdom. It is observational. People would look at the world and try and make sense of it.

For example:
Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out. - Proverbs 10:9

That makes sense. If you live your life honestly, and you don’t behave in an underhand way you have no fear of being caught out. You can walk confidently and not have that burden on your conscience. If you lie, cheat and steal, you may have got ahead fast, but eventually you will probably be found out and likely be looking over your shoulder along the way.

Practically speaking, the book of Proverbs starts with an introduction, moves to an appeal to live wise lives for several chapters, and then after about chapter 10 we enter into the more standard phrases.

At the heart of the book of Proverbs is the insistence that wisdom begins with trust in God; and practically speaking, this consists of making wise choices between good and evil behaviour. Living in such a way will produce a full and godly life.

There are proverbs about lots of different topics, mainly what was important to people 1000s of years ago. Subjects like: friendship, our speech, care for the poor, laziness, sex, work, relationships, generosity, money, kindness, raising children.

I imagine some of those topics will still be relevant to many of us today.

So how should you go about reading Proverbs?
You will probably find as you read through each chapter that lots of topics come up. I recommend opening yourself to the Spirit and asking God to highlight a particular verse, phrase or section for you to mull over during the day.

Ask yourself questions like:
Why did the original writer think this was worth writing down?
Do I agree? Why or why not?
How does this apply to my life?
How would my life look different if I lived this out?
What steps can I take to make this happen?
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1 Comment


Gilly Bowen - August 20th, 2019 at 4:49am

Is it possible to see previous episodes of "every day with Matt" please? I wanted to listen again to the series which had music tracks performed by different members of the congregation, like Ciara Holden. Thanks

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