Wisdom in the Bible - 1 September 2023
By Ben Fourie
The Value of Proverbs
I have read a very good book written by Stephan Joubert “Verander jou kop, verander jou lewe”. Freely translated, it reads, Change your mind, change your life. He says that to live wisely, always starts in the mind. From there, it should move to a well lived life before God and those around us. Wisdom is the sum total of a life well lived. Wisdom can also be described as the willingness to open yourself to God and other people. It is a willingness to learn about God and life.
The Bible consists of many books of which wisdom literature forms a very important part. The most important of these are the books of Job, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, as well as a number of psalms. There are also many non-biblical sources of wisdom literature and we can assume that the authors of Proverbs, in many instances, used these sources and other well-known proverbs of their time, which they adapted to fit into the Jewish religion.
We are not sure if there was a specific group or class of wise men in Israel, as we find among the other surrounding countries of the time. I am fairly sure that it would have been the case. It would have been strange if a group of people who concentrated on the study of wisdom did not exist in the Jewish society. In the time of David and Solomon, there was an upsurge in the study of wisdom. According to our verse for today, Proverbs was written by Solomon, but we can be sure that many were collected from other sources and not contrived by Solomon alone.
The proverbs that we are going to study this month are not ordinary day to day proverbs, but wisdom that was collected through many generations – knowledge that was gained through experience. That is why our verse for today tells us that it will help us to “recognise wisdom and good advice”. Proverbs is about everyday life and will help us to follow a road that is pleasing to God and other people.
Prayer: Teach me your way Lord and show me the road that will lead me to understand who you are and how you would want me to live. Amen