Proverbs Study

Some Good Dont's to Observe

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Photo credit: lightstock.com

Many people complain that religion is full of do's and don'ts, as if this is wrong. But isn't it the nature of a civilized people to have laws that govern society in a beneficial way?

Not all "don'ts" are restrictions of freedoms or rights. It's the nature and purpose of exhortations (or laws) that is the issue. When a parent says to a child, "Don't hit your friend," is this a wrong or negative restriction? Hardly!

Scripture

Whenever you are able, do good to people who need help. If you have what your neighbor asks for, don’t say, “Come back later. I will give it to you tomorrow.”

Don’t make plans to hurt your neighbor who lives nearby and trusts you. Don’t accuse a person for no good reason; don’t accuse someone who has not harmed you. Don’t be jealous of those who use violence, and don’t choose to be like them.

The Lord hates those who do wrong, but he is a friend to those who are honest. The Lord will curse the evil person’s house, but he will bless the home of those who do right.

The Lord laughs at those who laugh at him, but he gives grace to those who are not proud. Wise people will receive honor, but fools will be disgraced. (Proverbs 3:27-35 NCV)

Key phrase

Whenever you are able, do good to people who need help.

Digging Deeper...

  1. What are we exhorted to do? What things are we exhorted not to do?
  2. What are the qualifying statements connected to each of these exhortations?
  3. How are the exhortations, in verses 27-31, related to the statements in verses 32-25?
  4. How are these statements both promises and warnings?

Make it personal...

How are you a blessing to others you come in contact with, and those with whom you have a relationship?

Are you aware of thoughts in your heart and mind that are harmful to your relationships with others?

What are specific ways you can choose to be a blessing to others, and live your life in a way that benefits others?

Reflection...

There's something to be said for the expression, "Practice random acts of kindness." But what if it wasn't random? Wouldn't it be better for us to practice kindness as a way of life?

How we treat others depends a lot on what our thoughts are towards them. If we have negative, vengeful, or hateful thoughts, then this will be seen by how we treat others.

But when God's wisdom and kindness are valued and held in our hearts and minds, then kindness towards others will more naturally flow out of us.

A Safe Way and Sweet Sleep

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Photo credit: lightstock.com

Wisdom, godly wisdom, is not just an understanding of truth. It is the fruit of a right relationship with God.

A relationship with God is not right because of moral goodness, but an honest relationship. A relationship of trust.

When a genuine relationship of trust exists between a person and God—the One, True and Living God—there are great benefits.

Scripture

By Wisdom the Lord laid the foundation of the earth. By understanding he established the heavens. By his knowledge the deep waters were divided, and the skies dropped dew.

My son, do not lose sight of these things. Use priceless wisdom and foresight. Then they will mean life for you, and they will grace your neck. Then you will go safely on your way, and you will not hurt your foot.

When you lie down, you will not be afraid. As you lie there, your sleep will be sweet. Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the destruction of wicked people when it comes. (Proverbs 3:19-25 GW) [Context– Proverbs Chap 3]

Key phrase

When you lie down, you will not be afraid... your sleep will be sweet

Digging Deeper...

  1. What are we told about the work of wisdom in the universe? Is this speaking of creation?
  2. How does this relate to what the Bible says in Genesis 1 and John 1:1-14? How is it related to trust and faith?
  3. How are we told to use wisdom? In what way will this foresight benefit a person?
  4. What assurances are given when a person lives with a genuine trust in God?

Make it personal...

How do you see the wise handiwork of God in creation? What causes you to marvel as you view the earth, the heavens, and the universe?

What are specific ways you could apply the wisdom of Proverbs in your own life? In what way do you need to practice more foresight—thinking ahead before you act?

Have you experienced a sense of security and safety in life? If not, why not? What worries and stresses do you allow to interfere with your trust in God?

Reflection...

The Proverbs of Solomon remind us of the value of godly wisdom—a wisdom founded on trust in and respect for God. They are not magical formulas, but guidelines for daily life. Wisdom is seen as a practical basis for relationship, business, and life in this world.

The benefits of wisdom are the result of living a godly life, not a morally good life, but a life of trust and faith. Moral goodness is a benefit of godly wisdom, so also general success, health, and good relationships.

Because of this trust in God, a person will be blessed with safety and security, whether day or night. But again, these are not guarantees, but guidelines and assurances that godly wisdom is valuable.

Wisdom, Honor and Respect

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Photo credit: lightstock.com

A lot of research has gone into the connection between what goes on in our minds and drives emotions, and how it affects our physical well-being.

Have you noticed this in your own life? Have you experienced the effect of stress on your health, both physical and emotional?

What about worry and doubt? These are stressors too. What do you worry about the most? It's likely impacting your health in a negative way. But there's a solution!

Scripture

Don’t depend on your own wisdom. Respect the Lord and refuse to do wrong. Then your body will be healthy, and your bones will be strong.

Honor the Lord with your wealth and the first-fruits from all your crops. Then your barns will be full, and your wine barrels will overflow with new wine.

My child, do not reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t get angry when he corrects you. The Lord corrects those he loves, just as parents correct the child they delight in.

 (Proverbs 3:7-12 NCV) [Context– Proverbs Chap 3]

Key phrase

Respect the Lord... Honor the Lord

Digging Deeper...

  1. What are we to do instead of depending on our own wisdom? How do these things relate to physical well-being?
  2. How does it say we are to honor the Lord? How can we honor God with our wealth and first-fruits?
  3. What are the benefits of respecting and honoring the Lord in these ways?
  4. What is our response supposed to be when corrected by the Lord? Why should we be accepting of His correction?

Make it personal...

What do you worry about the most? Based on this text and Proverbs 3:5-6, what are ways you can stop worrying?

Do you find it difficult to give and be generous? What are ways you give now, or could begin giving that honors God?

When things don't go your way, do you get angry and bitter? Or, do you ask God for perspective on things that need to change?

Are you aware of how the Lord corrects you? Are you thankful to God when He corrects you, and have you seen its benefits?

Reflection...

The key to wise living isn't just getting understanding, it's putting what we understand into action day-to-day. Honor and respect for the Lord begins in the heart. It is not about doing the right things to live the right way, but to have a deeper trust in God. Our trust in Him—as we respect and honor Him—will result in blessing and well-being. We will be freed from worry and filled with joy.

With All Your Heart

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Photo credit: lightstock.com

As a young believer, I had to learn how to trust God. It didn't come natural to me.

In fact, I had a wing-backed, turquoise chair that I called my "worry chair." It was vintage "modern" furniture from the sixties. I would sit down and worry about things, and get up more burdened with worry than when I sat down.

On the wall facing the chair was a calligraphy of Proverbs 3:5-6, which reminded me what to do about worry. Slowly but surely, God taught me how to leave my worries with Him rather than wrestle with them in that chair

Scripture

My child, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in mind. Then you will live a long time, and your life will be successful. [vss 1-2]

Don’t ever forget kindness and truth. Wear them like a necklace. Write them on your heart as if on a tablet. Then you will be respected and will please both God and people. [vss 3-4]

Trust the Lord with all your heart, and don’t depend on your own understanding. Remember the Lord in all you do, and he will give you success [straight paths]. [vss 5-6]

 (Proverbs 3:1-6 NCV) [Context– Proverbs Chap 3]

Key phrase

Trust the Lord with all your heart

Digging Deeper...

  1. What are we told will benefit our life? How are we told to go about this?
  2. Some things are said in word-pictures— what are we to wear like a necklace or write on our heart?
  3. What are we told will be the benefit of doing these things?
  4. What are we to do with all of our heart? How are we told to do this?

Make it personal...

How do you think you can wear kindness and truth like a necklace, and have them written on your heart? 

What makes it difficult for you to "trust the Lord with all your heart?"

How is it possible to remember the Lord in all that we do? What are actual ways of doing this?

Reflection...

The purpose of the Old Covenant Law was to help God's people stand out as a people who trusted in a living God, not idols. This trust, the essence of faith (Heb 11:6), was to be beneficial in a person's life in a practical way. The value of instruction was not to gather knowledge and understanding, but to bless a person so they would be a blessing to others, and a reflection of the God whom they trusted.