Proverb for the Day 1:1 — Practice What We Teach

Proverbs 1:1 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel

Proverbs were ancient wise sayings about life. The Hebrew word “proverb” means “comparison,” which describes how most proverbs are structured and what they say. Many are just that, short statements of contrasts about universal truths and human behavior.

This verse introduces both Solomon and his wise sayings. The Bible says God gave King Solomon great wisdom and he spoke 3,000 proverbs (1 Kings 4:29-34). Three collections of these are found in Proverbs (chapters 1-9; 10-24; 25-29; while chapters 30-31 are attributed to others). Just for the record, adding up all the verses in all these chapters totals far less than one-third of the original 3,000 proverbs he spoke.   

Frequently in Proverbs Solomon addresses his insights to “my son” (see 1:8). While this was an ancient literary technique of wisdom literature, it is still appropriate to understand it as father-to-son advice. This is guy talk – appropriate man-to-man locker-room talk – about life. But also note that the last chapter of the book comes from the king’s mother – momma always gets the last word! 

One of the greatest lessons of Proverbs does not come from any verse in the book. Instead, it is the reality that Solomon, who spoke all these great truths from the wisdom God gave him, actually quit practicing them, himself. And when he did, his life and entire kingdom suffered. 

You may have known a wonderful spiritual leader or teacher who lived and taught Biblical principles for many years. But, at some point, something happened and they quit practicing what they preached – with disastrous consequences. It is just not enough to know (or even originate) these spiritual truths. We must continue to practice them – one day at a time.

Seeing Life from God’s Point of View

We pay special attention to the Book of Proverbs here at Helping Up Mission.  It focuses on Wisdom more than any other book of the Bible.  One of our weekly Character Qualities (see, Wisdom is defined as “seeing life from God’s point of view.”  If this is an accurate definition, and if wisdom is as accessible as Proverbs says, it is a concept to which we really need to pay attention.

The Book of Proverbs does not really talk about going to Heaven.  Instead, it presupposes a personal relationship with God, already, and focuses on how to make the most of that relationship in this life.  How God looks at people, places and things is what Proverbs is about and we have the opportunity to tap into that understanding.

So we encourage guys to read the chapter of Proverbs which matches the date.  Today is March 19, so a guy would read Proverbs chapter 19.  With 30-31 days per month and 31 chapers in the book, we can basically read through Proverbs each month.  Over the course of our one-year Spiritual Recovery Program, that is a lot of wisdom!

In class today, Joe asked about Proverbs 19:7:
      The poor are shunned by all their relatives—how much more do their friends avoid them!
      Though the poor pursue them with pleading, they are nowhere to be found.

Family and friends unavailable to those in need – of course, the verse does not suggest this is right, just that it is how peope tend to act.  So, armed with this understanding, we should relate it to our own interactions with others.

If wisdom is anything like our definition and if it is really as accessible as Proverbs says, we should all get busy working at this on a daily basis. 

One Day at a Time,
Pastor Gary Byers
Deputy Director

One Proverb at a Time

The Book of Proverbs is a series of wise sayings mostly attributed to King Solomon.  Whether single verse statements or extended poetic sayings, they were well-known and widely accepted truths about life in his time. 

We have many of our own wise says today.  “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” wrote Benjamin Franklin.  “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink,” said my grandmother (and maybe yours, too).  The most popular one here at Helping Up Mission: momma said “I brought you into this world and I can take you out!” 

But the wise sayings of the book of Proverbs are more than just observations and their application for life.  They are God’s message to us about how to live and the opportunity to see, think, feel and act as He does. 

As part of our Spiritual Recovery Program here at Helping Up Mission, men read the chapter of Proverbs which matches the day of the month.  Today is October 30, 2012, and today I read Proverbs chapter 30.  For our guys, learning the practical application and daily benefits of the book’s key concepts of “wisdom” and “the fear of the LORD,” are invaluable tools in the spiritual recovery process.

It is exciting to me, as their teacher, to see guys read the daily chapter and begin understanding what it says.  They start seeing God as He really is and begin seeing themselves, others, and all of life as God does.  The daily Proverb reading becomes an important part of each man’s process in experiencing the hope, answers and empowerment that come from a personal relationship with the God of the Bible.  It really does work and I really do love my job.

Everything One Day at a Time,
Pastor Gary Byers
Spiritual Life Director

The Lion King and Proverbs

The wicked man flees though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion (Proverbs 28:1) 

While I understand this wise saying from my own experience, I have really come to appreciate it from the guys here at Helping Up Mission.  Time after time one will share about living foul (“the wicked”) and always feeling the need (in many cases, rightly so!) to watch his back because of all the bad stuff he had done or was still in the middle of dealing with.  When we aren’t living right or telling the truth – or even telling the same story to everybody – there is the reality of having to face the consequences of our choices. 

But the reverse is also true.  If we are living right (“the righteous”), we don’t have to fear the consequences of our bad decisions and our good choices set us up to experience the benefits of them.  Living “bold as a lion” is possible when we choose a lifestyle of just doing “the next right thing.”

The “lion” of this verse is the Hebrew word for a “young but fully-grown lion.”  In the Disney movie Lion King, when Simba returns from his self-imposed exile in the desert, he would have been such a young but fully-grown lion. 

Simba’s father, Mufasa, was the lion who ruled as king of the Pride Lands of Africa.  Mufasa would represent the mature lion mentioned in 28:15 (the standard Hebrew word for “lion” and different from the “lion” of this verse). 

One Right Thing at a Time,
Pastor Gary Byers
Spiritual Life Director