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Summary: This is the first is a Bible Study I did on the book of Proverbs. This particular study took about three wdeeks to do, and deals with the question of what is Wisdom according to the Bible.

THE ENLIGHTENED LIFE – KNOWLEDGE

PROVERBS 1:1-7

KNOWLEDGE IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE IT IS BASIC TO WISDOM. A PERSON MAY ACCUMULATE A GREAT NUMBER OF FACTS, BUT STILL NOT HAVE KNOWLEDGE AS KNOWLEDGE IS OBTAINED BY EXPERIENCE.

PROVERBS IS UNFAMILIAR TERRITORY, AND IS MATERIAL WE DON’T SPEND A GREAT DEAL OF TIME WITH AND AS A RESULT WE GAIN MANY MISCONCEPTIONS CONCERNING IT’S MATERIAL.

ANOTHER REASON IT IS UNFAMILIAR IS THAT WE HAVE THE WRONG IMPRESSION OF WHAT KNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM IS ALL ABOUT. WE LOOK AT KNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM AS A COLLECTION OF VARIOUS FACTS AND WISDOM AS HOW TO SUCCESSFULLY APPLY THOSE FACTS. THIS IS NOT THE CASE WHEN DEALING WITH THE ISRAEL OF SOLOMON’S DAY.

PROVERBS IS A BOOK WHICH DEALS WITH THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF WISDOM, WHICH IS DEPICTED AS A DIVINE ENDOWMENT CHARACTERIZED BY INSIGHT, INSTRUCTION, KNOWLEDGE OF DIVINE TRUTH, AND THE RESOLUTION TO APPLY ALL THESE QUALITITES ON THE BASIS OF A SHREWD AND INFORMED MIND.

MANY PROVERBS ARE COMPARISONS. THEY COMPARE A UNIVERSAL TRUTH, IN RYTHMIC PHRASES, TO SOMETHING SIMPLE, SOME FAMILIAR OBJECT, PERSON, OR ACTION. THE COMPARISON MAY BE EITHER TO SOMETHING SIMILAR OR, IT MAY FIND ITS EMPHASIS BY SHOWING CONTRAST. THEY REVEAL TRUTH, NEEDED FOR RIGHT LIVING.

THE BOOK OF PROVERBS REPRESENTS AN ATTEMPT TO DISTIL GREAT TRUTHS INTO A FEW WORDS. THEY DRAW FROM THE EXPERIENCES OF DAILY LIFE IN PALESTINE, HUNDREDS OF YEARS BEFORE THE BIRTH OF CHRIST. SUCH MEMORIZATION WAS, AT THE TIME PROVERBS WAS BEING WRITTEN, PROBABLY ONE OF THE MOST EFFECTIVE METHODS OF TEACHING AND LEARNING, BREVITY WAS HELPFUL. A WELL-TURNED PHRASE BECAME EASIER TO REMEMBER THAN A COMPLEX LAW OR THEOLOGICAL DOCTRINE.

WISDOM IS GOD’S GIFT AND IS FOSTERED BY A CONSTANT SEARCH FOR DIVINE TRUTH.

PROVERBS 2:6: THE LORD GIVES WISDOM. KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING COME FROM HIS MOUTH.

WISDOM IS PRESENTED AS A SOPHISTICATED ATTRIBUTE OF LIFE WHICH ENABLES ITS POSSESSOR TO MAKE A CREATIVE AND SUCCESSFUL MARK ON SOCIETY BY GOD’S POWER, AVOIDING MEANTIME THE SNARES AND PITFALLS WHICH BESET THE FOOLISH AND IGNORANT.

GOD DESIRES HIS PRIESTLY KINGDOM AND HOLY PEOPLE TO LIVE IN DISCERNMENT AND PROSPERITY, PURSUEING ETHICAL AND MORAL BEHAVIOR AS A CONSISTENT WITNESS TO THE SPIRITUAL RELATIONSHIP OF REVERENCE AND OBEDIENCE THAT THEY ENJOY WITH HIM.

THE MORAL TEACHINGS OF PROVERBS ARE MEANT TO RELATE THE BELIEVER’S FAITH SUCCESSFULLY TO LIFE IN SOCIETY. UNDER WISDOM’S GUIDANCE HE WILL FOLLOW AN HONEST, UNSELFISH PATTEN OF LIFE THAT WILL BE HONORED BY GOD AND RECOGNIZED IN HUMAN SOCIETY.

HIS REWARD WILL BE A SENSE OF SECURITY IN THE LORD AND AN INCREASING KNOWLEDGE OF WHO AND WHAT GOD IS AS THE BELIEVER SEARCHES THE DEPTHS OF DIVINE WISDOM AND APPLIES ITS TEACHINGS TO SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC CONCERNS.

PROVERBS 29:25: IF YOU ARE AFRAID OF PEOPLE, IT WILL TRAP YOU. BUT IF YOU TRUST IN THE LORD, HE WILL KEEP YOU SAFE.

PROVERBS 2:5: THEN YOU WILL UNDERSTAND HOW TO HAVE RESPECT FOR THE LORD. YOU WILL FIND OUT HOW TO KNOW GOD.

THE BOOK OF PROVERBS IS A COLLECTION OF SAYINGS FROM DIFFERENT SOURCES AND PERIODS, SOME OF WHICH AT LEAST MUST HAVE CIRCULATED INDEPENDENTLY BEFORE BEING ASSEMBLED IN THE BOOK.

THE MATERIAL IN PROVERBS SEEMS TO REFLECT THE CONCLUSIONS OF PEOPLE AS THEY CAREFULLY OBSERVED THE WORLD IN AN ATTEMPT TO IDENTIFY THE BASIC PATTERNS THAT OPERATE IN LIFE. ACCORDING TO ISRAELITE THINKING, THE BASIS FOR SUCH OBSERVATIONS IS THE FACT THAT GOD CREATED THE WORLD AND DESIGNED ORDER INTO IT.

PROVERBS 3:19-20:

19 BY WISDOM THE LORD LAID THE EARTH’S FOUNDATIONS. THROUGH UNDERSTANDING HE SET THE HEAVENS IN PLACE. 20 BY HIS KNOWLEDGE THE SEAS WERE SEPARATED, AND THE CLOUDS DROPPED THEIR DEW.

PROVERBS ARE GENERAL STATEMENTS OF TRUTH RATHER THAN INVARIABLE PROMISES OR LAWS, AND AN INDIVIDUAL PROVERB NORMALLY CAPTURES A TINY CROSS-SECTION OF TRUTH RATHER THAN MAKING A COMPREHENSIVE STATEMENT ABOUT A TOPIC. CONSIDER THIS PROVERB:

PROVERBS 15:1: A GENTLE ANSWER TURNS ANGER AWAY. BUT MEAN WORDS STIR UP ANGER.

THIS CONSTITUTES ONE COMPONENT OF THE BROADER TOPICS OF USING WORDS WISELY AND DEALING WITH ANGRY PEOPLE.

THIS SINGLE PRINCIPLE IS ONE SMALL PIECE OF A MUCH LARGER, MOSAIC, AND THE STUDENT IS NOT ONLY TO PUT TOGETHER THE BROADER MOSAIC PIECE BY PIECE, BUT ALSO LEARN TO APPLY THESE PRINCIPLES SKILLFULLY TO THE COMPLEXITIES THAT ONE ENCOUNTERS IN LIFE. THE GOAL OF THE WISDOM IN PROVERBS IS TO DEVELOP SKILL IN LIVING ACCORDING TO THE ORDER THAT IS EMBEDDED IN GOD’S CREATION.

MOST PROVERBS STATE A SINGLE GENERAL TRUTH WITH LITTLE ATTEMPT TO NOTE EXCEPTIONS AND QUALIFICATIONS.

WHILE THE BOOK ADDRESSES A WIDE VARIETY OF ISSUES, IT GIVES CONSIDERABLE ATTENTION TO MATTERS SUCH AS THE CONTRAST BETWEEN THE WISE PERSON AND THE FOOL, THE IMPORTANCE OF VIRTUES SUCH AS DILIGENCE AND SELF-CONTROL, THE IMPORTANCE OF USING WORDS WISELY, WARNINGS ABOUT SEXUAL IMMORALITY, THE RESPONSIBLE USE OF MONEY, PRIORITIES, AND ADVISE ABOUT PROPER BEHAVIOR IN A VARIETY OF SOCIAL SETTINGS. MOST PROVERBS DEAL WITH THE GENERAL AND THE TYPICAL, BUT THEIR GOAL IS TO EQUIP PEOPLE WITH THE SKILLS TO APPLY WISDOM TO THE PARTICULAR EXPERIENCES IN LIFE.

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