When our daughter started high school, I was overwhelmed with all I wanted her to remember. Friends coached me on what I “shouldn’t” do as a mom of a teenager… Much to my teenager’s relief, I resisted the urge to hang my head out of the window and shout as I drove away from the curb, “forsake not your mother’s teaching… if sinners entice you, do not consent!” (1:8,10) :) Instead, I began to write a letter to her each week, highlighting and reinforcing God’s truth in practical ways, so she would remember how to live it out in her personal behavior. The letters became treasures for her, and her wise choices became treasures for me. God’s truth is meant to transform our day to day lives.
God has written us letters of wisdom as treasures to take with us into our ordinary days. As we kick off a Scripture Dig study in the book of Proverbs, we find its theme in the first seven verse of the book (1:1-7); the goal is to explain and plant wisdom into God’s people, so they would show the world what restored life looks like. The book begins with letter like mine, from a father to a son. These words of wisdom literature were written first to a Hebrew audience, but extended to all mankind. The “simple,” the young, the wise and the “one who understands” are specifically addressed to give “skill in the art of godly living.”
Like letters I’ve written for my own daughter, Proverbs is a collection of writings, an anthology. They make comparisons and illustrate consequences of choosing wise or foolish pathways. As a parent longs for a child to cling to wisdom, so the writers of Proverbs call readers to choose the virtuous life among the ordinary, with the hope that extreme examples will clearly show how obedience brings blessing. The characters of the “wise,” “fool” and “simple” are used to impress the point of the joy of the wise and the folly of the fool.
While Solomon was the primary author or collector of these scriptures, he was not the only writer. Authors called “the wise,” “Hezekiah’s men,” Agur, and Lemuel penned some of the collection’s words. The words of the well known Proverbs 31are ascribed to King Lemuel, taught to him by his mother. The Book of Proverbs is part of Jewish Wisdom Literature, along with books like Job, Song of Solomon, and the wisdom Psalms. The ESV Study Bible identifies three characteristics in the Proverbs:
- A virtue is commended.
- A vice is held up for disapproval.
- A value is affirmed
Proverbs puts truth to the test in our regular, everyday lives.
Oh, I’m excited about the days ahead as we open up God’s letters of wisdom and enjoy the treasures He has for us there! While preparing and studying, I could almost hear the Lord with His head out of the “heavenly window” shouting about wisdom of Proverbs …
“if you seek it like silver and search for it as hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God” (2:4,5).
I’m so glad He didn’t hold back! Will you join us as we dig into these treasured letters from our Heavenly Father?