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How Should Christians Read the Book of Proverbs?

How Should Christians Read the Book of Proverbs?

If you love wisdom and you like short statements that reflect truth then you will love the book of Proverbs. The book of Proverbs is different than probably every other book in the Bible. The entire focus of the book is on gaining wisdom. While you can get wisdom from every book in the Bible the book of Proverbs was written for that one purpose. With this difference in mind, how should Christians read Proverbs? Should you approach it like every other book in the Bible or should you vary your approach? With the tremendous benefits that come from reading the Proverbs, it is something worth exploring.

What Is the Book of Proverbs?

Proverbs is the 20th book of the Bible. It falls under the category of Wisdom Literature in the Old Testament, preceded by Psalms and followed by Ecclesiastes. A proverb is a "short saying that expresses a universal truth for practical, righteous living." The Book of Proverbs contains 31 chapters. Each chapter has several wise, short sayings from the author.

Who Wrote Proverbs?

There are three authors that contributed to the writing of Proverbs. King Solomon is responsible for writing chapters 1-29. King Agur wrote chapter 30 and King Lemuel wrote chapter 31. The way the book is broken down the first nine chapters spend a lot of time talking about the benefits of wisdom. When you get to chapter 10 and beyond you find the wise sayings that people often think about when they refer to the Proverbs.

What Is the Benefit of Reading Proverbs?

To answer this question, you just have to read the first chapter and the first few verses.

The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:

“…for gaining wisdom and instruction;
for understanding words of insight;
for receiving instruction in prudent behavior,
doing what is right and just and fair;
for giving prudence to those who are simple,

knowledge and discretion to the young—
let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance—
for understanding proverbs and parables,
 the sayings and riddles of the wise
." (Proverbs 1:2-6)

Let’s list the benefits that come from reading Proverbs.

-Wisdom
-Instruction
-Insight
-Learning prudent behavior

-Learning to do what is right and fair
-Prudence to the simple
-Knowledge and discretion to the young
-Guidance

The essence of the Proverbs is they provide wisdom for life that can really help shape your thinking and your decision making. Proverbs is not just about acquiring knowledge as important as that is. Proverbs is about acquiring wisdom which is the application of that knowledge in your everyday situations.

How Should Christians Read Proverbs?

Let’s now address this question of how Christians should read Proverbs with greater detail. Here are five suggestions that can help you.

1 – Take Your Time

Proverbs is not a book that you can really rush through. Think of Proverbs as a marathon and not a sprint. After all isn’t that what life is. Many of the sayings in the book cause you to stop and think and this is exactly what you should do. If there is any book that you want to take your time with and meditate on this is one of those books. It is absolutely ok to read a little and think a lot as you read through the Proverbs. If you do this I believe it will allow the truth of the Scriptures to penetrate your heart and mind. Come to think of it this is a good way to read all Scripture but definitely one of the ways Christians should read Proverbs. 

2 – Write Them Down

My son, do not forget my teaching,
but keep my commands in your heart,
for they will prolong your life many years
and bring you peace and prosperity. – Proverbs 3:1-2

There are so many transformational truths in Proverbs that it is virtually impossible to remember them all. As you are reading I would encourage you to write down the ones that really speak to you. The goal is to move the Scriptures from what is written on the page to what is written on your heart. This will only happen when you are intentional about it and writing them down is a way of doing that. If you want to take it a step further write it down on a card and take that with you all day long. This will not only help you remember the proverb but it is a good way to memorize Scripture as well.

3 – Use Them as a Reference

Another good way Christians should read Proverbs is as a reference. This may require you to get a concordance that will help you find where the Scriptures are located. You can also use Google as a quick concordance as well. Because the Proverbs are truths that can help you in every area of your life you may need to find one quickly when you need it. Therefore if you need to address an immediate situation then having the Proverbs at your fingertips is a good idea.

4 – Add it on to Other Reading

Because of the nature of Proverbs, they aren’t really meant to be read quickly. Some people will add the reading of Proverbs to their other Scripture reading. Here is what I mean. Maybe you are reading through a book of the Bible and at the end, you read a couple of Proverbs. Remember the goal is to acquire wisdom and those one or two Proverbs every day can help increase your wisdom.

5 – Don’t Treat Them as Suggestions

The real value in Proverbs just like all of the Word of God is in the application. As great as they are to read without application you are simply deceiving yourself. Remember these words from James

"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." – James 1:22

When you find the proverb that speaks to your situation put it into practice. Remember this is what wisdom is, the practical application of knowledge so don’t treat them as suggestions.

The Blessing of Wisdom in Your Life

I want to remind you of some of the blessings of wisdom in your life. Here are three passages from Proverbs to help you remember

"Blessed are those who find wisdom,
those who gain understanding,
for she is more profitable than silver
and yields better returns than gold
." – Proverbs 3:13-14

"Then he taught me, and he said to me,
'Take hold of my words with all your heart;
keep my commands, and you will live.
Get wisdom, get understanding;
do not forget my words or turn away from them.

Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
love her, and she will watch over you
.'" – Proverbs 4:4-6

"My son, pay attention to what I say;
turn your ear to my words.
Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
for they are life to those who find them
and health to one’s whole body
." – Proverbs 4:20-22

I think you can see the tremendous difference this book can make in your life if you read and put into practice what it says.

To think about Proverbs is to think about wisdom. If we are all honest we need more of it. The good news like everything else God has provided the wisdom you need to approach every aspect of your life. I guess when you think about it the most important way Christians should read Proverbs is by simply reading them. It makes no difference how much wisdom is found within the pages of Proverbs if it simply stays on the pages. If you get into the habit of pouring the truth of God’s Word into your heart it will eventually come out in your actions. God has shown us how to acquire the wisdom we need to live in this world. Our responsibility is to read it and more importantly, do what he says.

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Clarence Haynes 1200x1200Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club.  He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. His most recent book is The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. Clarence is also committed to helping 10,000 people learn how to study the Bible and has just released his first Bible study course called Bible Study Basics. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com

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