I get a kick out of my grandkids. Caroline is a little artist. She is 7 and could spend all day in a room with paints and paper. She also is not an athlete. One day she wanted to play catch with me. I would toss the light rubber ball at her and it would bounce off her abdomen and onto the ground. About 5 seconds later she would lift her hands. It was hard work to teach her what it means to catch the ball. She didn’t instinctively know that she would need to lift her hands in anticipation and be ready to grasp the ball when it comes to her. She liked the idea of catching a ball but simply did not know how to do it.
The first verb in Proverbs 2, “receive” is similar to catch.
1 My son, if you receive my words
and treasure up my commandments with you,
2 making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;
3 yes, if you call out for insight
and raise your voice for understanding,
4 if you seek it like silver
and search for it as for hidden treasures,
5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
Most of us like the idea of receiving God’s words, commands, direction, wisdom for life. But often we just don’t know how to do it. We don’t know to lift up our hands and wait with anticipation for when it comes.
The rest of this passage (v2-4) helps us see what it looks like. To receive His words is to open our ears, eyes and heart. To lean forward as if we were going to find a treasure chest. The passage is structured as an if/then clause. If we would do these things then the result of understanding and finding would follow. What good is that? Well, the rest of the chapter goes on to explain (read v6-22). Ultimately, if we did these things then we would be protected from the multitude of traps that await us in this fallen world. Oh, the stories I have seen, heard and experienced regarding traps!
I know this lady, we’ll call her Heidi. She’s one of those people that we might call a kook. A religious fanatic. She walks around looking for God and seeing Him in everything. She seems out of touch with reality. Nothing is just normal life. Sometimes she annoys me. But, more recently, I am reminded that she lives out some of the aspects of Proverbs 2. She is constantly looking for God to show up. She is looking for Him to show her something. She has an expectation that He is going to do something really neat.
I wonder if I would have a little more joy if I were just a bit more like Heidi. I wonder if we all would gain a lot if we positioned ourselves to play catch, raising our hands up and waiting in anticipation for our granddaddy to throw us the ball.
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom”
Proverbs offers us a way of life that begins with a reverence for God and ends in blessing. The 31 chapters are rich with wise sayings and memorable lines.We hear about marriage, generosity, poverty, work, alcohol, speech, character, family and so much more. One of my favorite things is that it is an offer of hope for anyone that will take the teachings seriously. Our life can be better! We will spend a few weeks on Proverbs looking at it’s different sections. We will start with chapter 1.
Here is a the Bible Project overview of the books.
How do we live a good life? This is the question that the wisdom books seek to answer. The method of learning how to live this good life is intense. Wisdom literature causes us to get out of our elementary level Sunday school, and step into the world of adult rhetoric. A world where we must struggle with life's hyperbolic contrasts. A world where the “formula” does not always work. This is a world where the sage’s of old lived and where Jesus spent quite a bit of time spinning parables that caused his followers to wrestle with the meaning. Some would walk away and others would cling to him more tightly.
My resources in preparation are:
The rough outline we will follow is likely:
A shepherd and his journey