Session 13 Old Testament Overview - Proverbs


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Session 13 Old Testament Overview

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Capitol Hill Baptist Church
525 A Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002

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Session 13 Old Testament Overview - Proverbs

  1. 1. Old Testament Core Seminar Class 13 “Proverbs” Old Testament Overview 1
  2. 2. Introduction to Proverbs 2 “A penny saved is a penny earned.” “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man health, wealthy, and wise.” “God helps those who help themselves.” • Short, pithy sayings that help us live better called proverbs. • What do these have in common? They’re not in the Bible! • Proverbs consists of exactly what the title suggests: wise sayings, advice, and principles. • Some are connected to each other and some are stand-alone. • We’ll consider what proverbs actually are and what they are not. • A method for interpreting this genre of Scripture, and themes. • The Book of Proverbs points us to something greater than advice for living a better life today … they point us to Jesus Christ.
  3. 3. Context 3 • Mostly written by King Solomon. • More effective is the many times in the first chapters Solomon is addressing his son. • He’s teaching this son how to be a man (literal or rhetorical). • Proverbs is full of the wisdom of a man who has lived life and seen much of the world and wants to pass on what he’s learned. • In terms of redemptive-historical context, the Proverbs don’t seem to be moving the plot line along. • There’s very little about God’s plan of salvation plan. • But there is the wisdom a king needs to rule over God’s people and so they point to Christ. • Once we understand how to interpret them we can apply to us.
  4. 4. Outline/Overview of the Book 4 • There are lots of themes: – the fear of the LORD, – the power of the tongue, – what makes a godly woman, – what it means to truly live life, – how to get wisdom, – receiving instruction, – the sovereignty of God, – honesty, marriage, sex, family, – work, economics, – generosity, friendship, and on an on.
  5. 5. Outline/Overview of the Book 5 • But there is the central theme of wisdom. – Wisdom is fearing the LORD, being teachable, and having skill in godly living • Fearing the LORD: living life in relation to who he really is. • Being teachable: wisdom isn’t about what you know –it’s your humility in continuing to learn. • Having skill in godly living: wisdom is knowledge in action. Knowing what to do with the knowledge you’ve received in order to live a more godly life. – The LORD is the source, the means, and the goal of wisdom. • God is the source of wisdom. • He is the Creator of all things – to understand His universe you need to understand it in relation to who He is, why He created it, what it tells us about Him, and so forth. • God is also the means by which we get wisdom – it is a gift. • The goal/value of wisdom is to know God better.
  6. 6. 6 The book of Proverbs can be divided into three main sections: I. Proverbs 1-9 – Solomon’s Wisdom for the Young Man II. Proverbs 10-29 – Solomon’s Collection of Independent Proverbs A. Chapters 10-24: The proverbs of Solomon B. Chapters 25-29: The proverbs of Solomon, collected by Hezekiah III. Proverbs 30-31 – Non-Solomonic Proverbs A. Chapter 30: The words of Agur B. Chapter 31: The words of Lemuel which his mother taught him • Proverbs don’t form a single storyline or logical argument they need to be looked at differently than other books of the Bible. – First the genre of proverbs: what they are and how we can interpret them. – Then thematically through the book.
  7. 7. What are the Proverbs? 7 • Most Scriptures teach eternal, unassailable truth about God, man, the world. • Proverbs are different. Still inspired, and still profitable. • They are unique in that most of them aren’t absolute rules that govern the universe, nor guarantees in life. • They are general principles and observations that can be drawn from the created order by those who fear the LORD. • Look at Proverb 26:27. “If a man digs a pit, he will fall into it; if a man rolls a stone, it will roll back on him.” • Does every one who dug a pit has fallen in, or everyone who rolled a stone has been crushed by that stone? No.
  8. 8. 8 • The proverb deals with deceit. – Digging a pit here is for the intent of harming someone. – Rolling a stone is with the intent of trying to fudge property boundaries which were marked by stones. – The writer is saying your deceit will come back to bite. – A good principle to live by and easy to remember. – Truth: every lie doesn’t harm the liar (in this life). – Yes, every lie will be found out on the judgment day. – In this life many people tell lies and get away with it. – So the application of the proverb then is what? – Don’t try to deceive people, because, nine times out of ten, you will only harm yourself in your deceit.
  9. 9. 9 • There are some proverbs that are always true because they describe eternal truth about God and the design of the universe. • They make sweeping claims that apply all the time. • Proverb 16:33. “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.” – This proverb affirms God’s sovereignty. – It declares every decision is from the LORD. – It functions more as a true saying about things than a principle or some sort of advice. • Proverb 17:15. “Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent-- the LORD detests them both.” – It’s about God’s delight in justice and hatred for injustice. – That never changes. He is always righteous. – It would never make sense if He only sometimes hated injustice.
  10. 10. 10 • Most of the proverbs fall into the first category. • They are generally true rather than inviolable laws. • Think of the book of Proverbs as a manual for fulfilling God’s creation mandate - to exercise dominion over His earth. • These proverbs are generally true - there are exceptions. • For example, Proverbs tells us that if we do what is right things will go well. • Is that always the case? • Not now … not then! • Remember Job – sometimes the righteous suffer.
  11. 11. How are the Proverbs interpreted? 11 • We’ve talked about how Hebrew poetry uses “parallelisms.” • Where one line expands upon, and amplifies, the line before. • The Proverbs are a style of poetry, so all we said still applies. • They’re slightly different because in Proverbs the parallels are generally contrasts. “The wise in heart accept commands but a chattering fool comes to ruin. (10:8) • Steps to guide you in interpreting proverbs: 1. Determine the parallelisms. – What in the second line is in parallel with “the wise in heart?” – “A chattering fool.” – What’s in parallel with the verb, “accept?” – “Comes.” – What’s in parallel with “commands?” – “To ruin.” • Not all these easy! It’s not a science.
  12. 12. 12 2. Identify any figures of speech. – Are there any figures of speech here? – “Chattering fool” means one who talks a lot - so much that he has no time to listen. – What does “comes to ruin” mean? – Most likely that trouble and tragedy will come to whatever relationship it is in which you behave like a chattering fool: with a spouse, with an employer, with a parent, etc. – It also has to do with superiors - about accepting commands. – It has little to do with how we relate to our children, students, or strangers we meet - people who usually don’t give us commands.
  13. 13. 13 3. Summarize what the proverb says in your own words. 4. Finally, consider how to apply this to your own life. – We all have parents who we must submit to. – Most of us have bosses. – Students, you have teachers. – Wives, you have husbands. – Church members have deacons, elders, or pastors. – God. – Be quick to listen and submit, and don’t argue and bicker over things. – If you obey and submit, you will prove yourself to be wise. • These aren’t absolute laws. If anyone commands you to sin, obviously you shouldn’t. • So slow down and really consider what the Proverb is saying.
  14. 14. 14 • It’s also important to consider the original context of a Proverb and even consulting various translations for help. • For example, KJV Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” • Used often to justify a new “mission statement” or “vision- casting”. • Many translate “vision” as “revelation” and “perish” as “cast of restraint”. • So, the NIV, says, “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off ________________; but blessed is he who keeps the law.” • Most of the time these nuances in the English language can be less significant because of the context. • To uncover the truths and teaching of these few verses, the understanding and meaning of particular words is critical.
  15. 15. 15 Here are seven guidelines. 1. Common Sense is required. 2. They are always ultimately true. 3. They are normally true now. 4. They employ poetic imagery. 5. They are partial in themselves. 6. They are sometimes obscure. 7. As a whole, the proverbs are religious.
  16. 16. Framework for understanding Wisdom in the Proverbs 16 Contrasts to wise living: • One of the main characters of the book is the Fool. – In Proverbs, you can ID a fool by what he thinks about discipline. – Welcome or avoid correction? – Disregard for discipline. – Overriding characteristic is no self-control (17:24). • The fool in know for what he does and for what he doesn’t do. – Proverbs 14:29, “A patient man has great understanding, but a quick- tempered man displays folly.” – Proverbs 17:28, “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.” • While silence cannot change the heart, the inability to hold ones’ tongue is the first step towards recognizing a heart that is generating ________________ speech!
  17. 17. 17 • A fool is identified by what happens to him. • Rejection of correction (outside) and lack of discipline (inside) ultimately lead death. • His hatred of wisdom becomes indistinguishable from a love of death. Proverbs 5:23 “He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his great folly.” • Essentially, fools are atheists. They live as if there were no God. • They’re unable to discern good from evil. • In Proverbs 7 the “youth who lacked judgment” is led astray by the adulterous woman. • Another contrast to wisdom character is the Sluggard. • Recognize by failure to take advantage of present opportunities. • Letting them slip by and makes excuses for himself along the way.
  18. 18. 18 • Commentator Derek Kidner writes that the sluggard “does not commit himself to a refusal, but deceives himself by the smallness of his surrenders. So, by inches and minutes, his opportunity slips away.” • We may be more of a sluggard than realize it. • We live in a fast pace and opportunistic times but does that mean that sluggards are absent? • Or that only those who are at the bottom of the “power structure” are the sluggards? • Is it that these who “let opportunities slip away” could be some of the powerful and busy among us? • Do we devote ourselves to one thing to avoid discipline elsewhere? • Do we appear busy and dedicated, so we can make excuses for a lazy attitude in another area?
  19. 19. 19 • When the sluggard has gotten up the energy to start something as basic as eating, he doesn’t finish it! • He is one who begins a hundred projects and finishes none. • Distracted rather than diligent, wasting opportunities. • He disappoints those around him. • He prefers laziness to labor. • He wants an easy life rather than one spent in doing good. • And he is always making excuses. • If this lesson was a check list of your life how would you do? • When you start your week or day do you tackle and then finish the difficult projects first or do you procrastinate? • Culture claims the only point of working is to gain a life of recreation and leisure. • How should we as Christians view work?
  20. 20. Framework for understanding Wisdom in the Proverbs 20 Context for wise living: • Proverbs says much about the family, from marriage to parent/child relationships. • The wise and godly life, according to Proverbs, pays particular heed to the family. • The building block of family is marriage and Proverbs speaks – to romance between husbands and wives, – to faithfulness, – to describing a noble wife’s character. • Proverbs puts faithfulness at the root of a loving marriage. • And never underestimates the danger of adultery. • The OT uses the language of marriage to describe God’s relationship with his people. • Greater than unfaithfulness in marriage is unfaithfulness in our relationship with God.
  21. 21. 21 • Proverbs says much about parent/child relationships. • Recall, it was written from a father to a son. • It focuses not on the child’s practical needs but spiritual. • The main thing parents must do for children is to teach them. • One of the ways wisdom is taught thru correction and discipline. “Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death”(19:18). (NIV) • Proverbs speaks about friendship as a key to wisdom. • It doesn’t assume that all friends are good friends. “A discerning son heeds instruction, but a companion of gluttons disgraces his father” (28:7) “Do not envy the wicked, do not desire their company;” (24:1). • Time with friends = influence on US. • When you choose friends marked by sins, you will begin to imitate them, as if by osmosis.
  22. 22. 22 • Good friends influence us unto wise and righteous living. • Characteristics of a real/good friend. – sensible (6:1-5; 17:18) – selfless (3:29; 14:21; 25:17) – forgive (10:12b) – tell the truth to one another (27:6) • Real friendship begins in our relationship with God. • God provides what it takes to be a real friend so we can invest in others. • The standard Proverbs gives for true friendship is high indeed which paints a portrait of our only true, best of friends, the Lord Jesus Christ.
  23. 23. Framework for understanding Wisdom in the Proverbs 23 Communication of wise living: • Proverbs tells us much about what to say, how to say it, and how we listen. – “The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way, But the folly of fools is deceit.” (14:8) – “He who guards his mouth preserves his life, But he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction” (13:3) – “He who has knowledge spares his words, And a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.” (17:27). • Proverbs goes beyond gossip, slander, or lying, and focuses on hasty words. • Are you a quick responder? To offer guidance? • A wise person waits until the facts are gathered and has gained an appropriate understanding of the situation and person … • And even then may not speak because that is not what the person needs at the moment.
  24. 24. 24 • Ask a friend or your spouse how you are doing in relation to those verses. • More important than the words we speak are the words we hear. • Wisdom is found through listening to the words of others. • Listening should be given priority over speaking. • The idea of “hearing” in the Bible t means listening and following up with right action. • “My son, hear the instruction of your father, And do not forsake the law of your mother;” (1:8). • Listening and then heeding wise words is the beginning and essence of wisdom. • Teaching and learning should be central for every Christian. • Which are you? Much to teach. Or much to learn. • A wise person sees every relationship as an opportunity for learning and growing in wisdom.
  25. 25. Framework for understanding Wisdom in the Proverbs 25 The Outcome of Wisdom: • Proverbs teaches us about living wisely in this present world and about what is to come. • We are not static creatures; every day we are walking either toward life or toward death. • “He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, But he who is careless of his ways will die.” (19:16) • We’ll all be held accountable to God. And death will come to all. • How to prepare? Work really hard in order to prove ourselves righteous and wise before God? • Some the practical wisdom in Proverbs teaches us to save ourselves by following its requirements. Not! • We’re accountable to God for our sin, God will judge us, we must confess our sins if we are to receive mercy, “Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for” (16:6). (NIV)
  26. 26. 26 • Question: Where is Jesus and the gospel in the Proverbs? • Christ was the very embodiment of wisdom. Read Mat. 12:42 • The wisest thing anyone can do is to repent of their sins and put their faith in Jesus Christ. • Paul glories in the wisdom of the gospel - so wise it supersedes all human attempts at wisdom. • Proverbs doesn’t tell us about Christ’s work on the cross. • None of us can live the Proverbs perfectly – and Proverbs reminds that only One person has lived this Wisdom of God— Jesus Christ. • Read I Corinthians 1:18-24.
  27. 27. Conclusion 27 • The Proverbs are rich and full of wisdom. • Read them slowly. Read them contemplatively. Strive to apply them. • Thus gaining an understanding of the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. • We spend a lot of time doing what we love - pursuing what we like. • The application today is to love and want to gain wisdom and knowledge! • “He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; He who keeps understanding will find good.” (19:8) • Read the Proverbs. Teach the Proverbs. • And as you teach them the Proverbs, teach them that Jesus is the true wisdom of God!