Proverbs is a lovely and informative book, and can be inspiring, but the
whole approach to wisdom in this book, as in most of the OT and Apocrypha
wisdom books (the exception is Ecclesiastes and to a certain extent Job) is
that their perspective is traditional wisdom: the older person tells his
"son" what he should believe and do. Follow the path of life! This approach
is inadequate in a time that requires us to take a more questioning,
metacognitive and reflective approach to life's questions.
All people will be able to flourish in a flourishing natural environment
>On May 21, 2006, at 3:24 PM, [log in to unmask] wrote:
>>I am not religious but I don't believe the theme of the article can be
>>ignored in the debate?
>>Are You Getting Your Daily Dose of Wisdom?
>>Between 1987 and 2001, U.S. health club memberships grew by almost 90%
>>reaching a record 33 million members nationwide. In 2003, the fitness
>>craze is still booming. Americans today belong to health and fitness
>>centers where they put their bodies through all manner of exercises that
>>would make a medieval torturer proud. And I applaud them for doing so!
>>The gleaming chrome weight machines, the lap pools, the isometric
>>stations, the stair-steppers, the medicine balls, the rowing
>>machines-I’ve almost broken a sweat just thinking about all the modern
>>ways we’ve invented to keep ourselves healthy and energetic.
>>Besides the psychological and emotional boost we get from a hard workout,
>>two things happen to us physically when we exercise. First, our muscles
>>are conditioned-the stretching and exertion keep them toned and flexible.
>>But second, and most important, we replenish our body’s oxygen supply.
>>Oxygen is a key element in good health. In fact, it is said that over 90
>>percent of the nutrition our body needs comes from the oxygen we breath,
>>while less than 10 percent comes from the food we eat. The human body
>>suffers more seriously from a deficit of abundant, clean oxygen than it
>>does from the absence of any other substance. We can live approximately
>>40 days without food, perhaps four days without water, but only three or
>>four minutes without oxygen.
>>Just as a few simple daily regimens will keep us in top shape physically,
>>the same thing is true in the spiritual realm. I discovered how true this
>>is at a men’s retreat a number of years ago. The speaker challenged us to
>>begin a practice he said would change our lives dramatically. I was ready
>>to write down a complex spiritual formula which I was sure he must
>>have discovered in a dusty volume written by a monk in the Middle Ages.
>>And I have to admit I was initially a little disappointed at what I
>>heard: “There are 31 chapters in the book of Proverbs. I challenge you to
>>read a chapter a day each month-two chapters on one day in the months
>>having only 30 days-for the next year. Whatever the day’s date is, read
>>the corresponding chapter of Proverbs. If you do that faithfully for a
>>year, you will have read the book of Proverbs 12 times and your life will
>>never be the same.”
>>I remember being intrigued by the simplicity of the notion and decided to
>>accept his challenge. In fact, the results were so significant the first
>>year that I have done it more than once in the years since. I was amazed
>>at how many times I found myself in a situation during the day for which
>>I had insight (or direction or a warning) taken directly from that
>>day’s reading in Proverbs. I came to the conclusion during that period of
>>my spiritual life-a conviction I continue to hold today-that Proverbs
>>offers the simplest, yet most profound, daily spiritual “pick-me- ups” to
>>be found in all the Bible. To the degree that an apple a day keeps the
>>doctor away, a Proverb a day will keep spiritual defeat away. It’s not
>>guaranteed, but it’s one of the best places to begin!
>>Why is Proverbs so powerful-such an effective stimulant for spiritual
>>living? It is because each proverb provides the one thing we all need in
>>large daily doses: wisdom. But lest you think wisdom is something
>>possessed only by philosophers, professors, and political sages, let’s
>>look at what the word really means. There is no more practical,
>>down-to-earth, hands-on word in the Bible than wisdom.
>>Wisdom’s roots run deep into Old Testament soil. Most Hebrew verbs were
>>based on three consonants (vowels were added later). The consonants h-k-m
>>made up the foundation of the verb “be wise,” plus the adjective “wise”
>>and the noun “wisdom” (hokmah). Interestingly, the word did not at first
>>signify “wisdom,” but rather “skill.” For instance, the h-k-m words were
>>used to describe those who made the high priest’s garments (Exodus 28:3),
>>those who wove the tapestries for the tabernacle (Exodus 35:35), those
>>who piloted ships (Ezekiel 27:8), those who spoke seductively (Psalm
>>58:5), those who carved idols (Isaiah 40:20), and those who were crafty
>>(II Samuel 13:3). The concept was also used to describe skillful members
>>of the animal kingdom: ants, badgers, locusts, and spiders (Proverbs
>>We would probably not think of any of the above people or animals as wise
>>in modern terms. But that’s because we tend to equate “wisdom” with
>>“intelligence.” If a person has a high I.Q., we automatically think he
>>must be very wise. But one can have great intelligence without great
>>wisdom, and vice versa. If the root idea of wisdom is skill, then we can
>>say that Proverbs will teach us the skill of living. Just as there is
>>skill in sewing, designing, speaking, navigating, and carving, so there
>>is skill needed for living life effectively and successfully. And that is
>>the kind of wisdom the book of Proverbs offers its readers.
>>Think of all the encounters you have in a week, and how many of them
>>require skillful navigation. You need direction for a big decision;
>>you’re confronted by an angry co-worker; immorality steps into your path
>>as a temptation; you receive an unexpected financial windfall; your child
>>is testing the limits of discipline; there’s tension in your marriage; a
>>close friend is devastated by a personal tragedy. Those situations, and
>>hundreds more we could list, require skill-and they happen every day. Not
>>a day goes by in which we don’t feel hesitant, even confused, about how
>>to act. Pure and simple, we need wisdom-the skill of living life. And
>>there are numerous verses in Proverbs which address every category of
>>crisis we will ever face.
>>Fortunately, wisdom from God is just a prayer away. The book in the New
>>Testament most like Proverbs is James. The hands-on nature of James
>>mirrors its Old Testament cousin. And James is the one who tells us, “If
>>any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally
>>and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).
>>The author of Proverbs, King Solomon, gained the wisdom to write more
>>than 3,000 proverbs the same way James advises us to get it: by asking
>>God (I Kings 4:32). When Solomon succeeded his father David as king over
>>Israel, God presented Solomon with a blank check: “Ask! What shall I give
>>you?” (see the story in I Kings 3). Understandably, twenty year-old
>>Solomon’s knees were knocking at the prospect of being king. So instead
>>of asking for riches and long life, he asked God for wisdom, and God was
>>true to His word: “I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so
>>that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like
>>you arise after you.” (And as a bonus, Solomon received riches and honor
>>too; verse 13.)
>>Word of Solomon’s wisdom spread far and wide throughout the nations. He
>>wrote proverbs, composed songs (e.g., the Song of Solomon), and taught
>>about botany, agronomy, zoology, and all facets of nature. Kings from the
>>surrounding nations sent their officials to listen to Solomon’s wisdom,
>>and some rulers made the trip themselves-like the Queen of Sheba who
>>journeyed from Africa (I Kings 4:29-34; 10:1-10).
>>For specific wisdom in unique situations, we may not have because we have
>>not asked (James 4:2). But in many more of life’s situations, we may lack
>>wisdom because we haven’t poured over the proverbs of Solomon. I invite
>>you to take up the challenge I accepted-a challenge which changed my
>>life. Check today’s date, read the corresponding chapter of Proverbs, and
>>keep it up for a year. I believe you’ll be amazed how something so simple
>>can energize your spiritual life-and give you needed skill for living.
>>Get ready for 31 days to a more powerful you!
>>by Dr. David Jeremiah
>>Back to From This Point Forward Directory