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Proverbs: The Bible's Twitter Feed

God's Story in Scripture  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  44:34
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As with nearly everything in life, there is good and bad with social media. In the current environment in which we live, social media is alive with people sharing posts of their coronacations and updates about how they are managing doing school from home, work from home and life at home with a house full of people - of course in groups of less than 10.
Beyond the fun updates, there are the urgent matters that we’re constantly being reminded to be socially distant, wash our hands, cough into our elbows, and generally be healthy. There are the updates about closures and special shopping hours for seniors.
Then there are the rants. Whether on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any number of other platforms, there are people who are angry about every policy decision or every act of rebellion against those policy decisions. There is truth to the adage “that you can’t please everyone.”
It’s easy to get sucked into the black hole of scrolling amidst the monotony of being stuck at home.
Now, I’m on social media but not a lot. I don’t post much - maybe I should do more, maybe less. I do enjoy reading about the good things in people’s lives. But there is a social media platform that sometimes drives me crazy...Twitter
Twitter
In a matter of a few characters, someone can share some bit of good news or rage about something happening in society. Many times, it seems like these posts lack any sort of context - but simply a post in mid-air.
In many ways, the book of Proverbs can seem a bit like Twitter. The short, two-line statements can be completely unrelated to the proverbs around them. They seem random, and yet there is a great deal of value, instruction, and truth in the the Bible’s Twitter feed.
For several months now, we’ve been walking through the Bible looking at an overview of each book as we consider God’s Story in Scripture. When we would consider the books of history or narrative, the story-line could be easily followed. Now that we’re in the midst of the five wisdom books, the storyline becomes a bit more unclear. The focus moves from the national elements of obedience and rebellion to living out biblical principles in the midst of daily life.
Job helped us understand how to live in the midst of suffering.
Psalms gave us a song for every season of life.
Today, as we consider the Bible’s Twitter Feed in the book of Proverbs, we’re getting even more personal and even more practical as we get to listen in to a father’s instruction to his son.

Background and Structure

Like Psalms, the book of Proverbs is really a collection of collections (Craigie, 219). It was likely compiled over a great deal of time. While Solomon is often given credit for the book and is the primary author, he is not the sole author - there are a few other people who had a hand in its Holy Spirit inspired content.
From a structure standpoint, the book of Proverbs is basically divided into two grand sections:
Chapters 1-9 - stand out as a sort of preamble or preface or introduction to the rest of the book - in many ways, this section is a call to learn.
Chapters 10-31 consist of the heart of proverbs, an assortment of pithy two-line statements of wisdom (Dever, 508-509).
As you may know, the book of proverbs is divided into 31 chapters - enough chapters to read one per day for the day of the month. There have been many people who have greatly benefited from having this sort of daily injection of wisdom. In fact this is a pattern that Billy Graham included in his devotional life. I think you could read Proverbs each month for the rest of your life, in addition to other Bible reading, and find a richness of application every day.
Our time together in the book today will really only scratch the surface of the book, but I do hope it awakens a desire in each of us to dive into the depths of Proverbs’ wisdom.
As we consider the book, we’re going look at it through the lens of some questions. What is wisdom? Who is Proverbs for? and What will we learn?

What is wisdom?

Wisdom is essentially general information that is intended to be applied to daily life. On commentator defines it as:
The essence of wisdom is skill, the ability to do a job.
Newheiser, Jim. Opening up Proverbs. Leominster: Day One Publications, 2008. Print. Opening Up Commentary.
The wisdom that we learn from Proverbs is more than just knowledge or trivia - it is driven by principles.
Wisdom is not something that we are born with - it’s something that we must learn. We could learn it the hard way through our own experience, or we could learn it from the experiences of others.
The book of Proverbs is set up like a book of lessons that a father - who may have learned the hard way - is giving to his son. It seems to be written in the hope that the son will learn the lessons from the father and avoid the pain of experience.
One of the beautiful things that Solomon does in the opening chapters of the book is that he uses poetic story and personification to whet our appetites for longing for more wisdom. In fact, he even sets up wisdom and folly as women who are both calling out.
Proverbs 9:1–6 ESV
Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn her seven pillars. She has slaughtered her beasts; she has mixed her wine; she has also set her table. She has sent out her young women to call from the highest places in the town, “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” To him who lacks sense she says, “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight.”
Proverbs 1:20–23 ESV
Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge? If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.
Wisdom, as personified here, is prepared and thoughtful. She is set up on the high place of the town because she is a woman of importance. In ancient cultures, that’s were the temples would be. But this woman wisdom is not just spouting random knowledge, she is spreading God’s wisdom:
Proverbs 9:10–11 ESV
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. For by me your days will be multiplied, and years will be added to your life.
Ultimately, God is the source of all wisdom. It is in God we find purpose and meaning. As God’s wisdom makes it way into our lives, there is abundant life and flourishing.
Conversely, Solomon also personifies folly as wisdom’s antagonist.
Proverbs 9:13–17 ESV
The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing. She sits at the door of her house; she takes a seat on the highest places of the town, calling to those who pass by, who are going straight on their way, “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” And to him who lacks sense she says, “Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”
Both wisdom and folly are calling out. They are both situated in the high places. They both call out to the simple. But there is a drastic difference in their purposes and outcomes.
Wisdom equips but folly extorts
Wisdom elevates but folly diminishes
Wisdom enlightens but folly deceives
Wisdom causes flourishing but folly causes famine
Wisdom fills but folly drains
Wisdom lasts, but folly fails
Over these last several weeks, your elders have been fervently praying for wisdom. We’ve been seeking God to lead us to make wise choices as it pertains to our responsibility to you during this time of crisis. My hope is that these decisions to meet virtually, to engage over the phone and email will be life-giving and enlightening means of helping each of us flourish. We’ve tried to listen to the wisdom of the governing authorities that God has placed over us. We’ve tried to pay attention to the concerns of the medical officials. We’ve also tried to tune out the voices that lead to panic. Please continue to pray that God would give us His wisdom as we navigate through this time.
So, in the book of Proverbs, we get some practical knowledge. But then it almost begs the question...
You can almost hear the din of the marketplace as wisdom - who really doesn’t have a voice - calls to people

Who is Proverbs for?

In one sense, we could day everyone. There is instruction here for the young and the old, the rich and the pool, the intelligent and the simple, the single and the married, for parents and children. There is even instruction for the rebellious and the lazy.
There are certain people that the writers call out by name. Specifically, Proverbs is written for...

The Young

It’s almost as thought the book reads as a sort of manual for “ADULTING” - the process of learning to grow up. The writer even calls out his children.
Proverbs 1:8–9 ESV
Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.
In fact so many of the teachings in the book lean toward the young - sort of helping them navigate life like a GPS. In the next couple of verses the writer even warns about listening to sinners.
Proverbs 1:10–16 ESV
My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood; let us ambush the innocent without reason; like Sheol let us swallow them alive, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; we shall find all precious goods, we shall fill our houses with plunder; throw in your lot among us; we will all have one purse”— my son, do not walk in the way with them; hold back your foot from their paths, for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood.
To someone who has not heard good counsel or grown up with wise instruction, the ways of the “sinner” as the writer points out here, may seem enticing. To some it may seem fun to take advantage of the unsuspecting. It may seem freeing to do whatever we want.
One of the things that we have to see is that inherent in the writers logic here is the idea of right and wrong, good and evil. Where do we get that standard? That standard comes from God. He is the author of all life. He is the one who is all good.
Proverbs calls us to turn to Him for that standard and not to ourselves.
Proverbs 14:12 ESV
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.
Our way of “if it feels good, do it” seems right. If that desire is in me, why should I not fulfill it?
The Word of God and even specifically here in the book of Proverbs demonstrate to us that there are moral absolutes. There is a moral right and wrong. These rules are not just random or haphazard, but they are logical and for our benefit and they come from God.
God has laid out his standards in His word for us to follow, but he also understands that we will be unable to fully adhere to His standard - as so He sent his Son, his perfect Son, to be the completion of God’s standard on our behalf.
2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT
For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
I think we should seek to be morally good and right - as much as we can be. But, we should not put our faith and trust in our ability to be good - be cause we will fall short. Our sin problem can only be made right with God through the perfect, shed blood of Jesus Christ. If you have not yet trusted in him as your savior, then maybe today is the day of your salvation. Friend, will you pray to God and repent of your sin, and trust in Jesus Christ? If you would like to spend some time on the phone or in person - adhering to a proper social distance - I’d be happy to open the Word of God with you to show you just how deep our sin is and how much more deep is God’s love for you.
If you’d like to have a conversation - feel free to put a comment in the feed or send me an email - pastor@poolesvillebaptist.com.
The writers of proverbs seem to be focusing on the young, establishing a framework or a foundation of right and wrong. But in addition to the young, the writers of proverbs have some very pointed things to say to the...
But in addition to the young, the writers of proverbs have some very pointed things to say to the...

Foolish

Proverbs 1:20–23 ESV
Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge? If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.
These are not people who are unintelligent, but people who refuse to learn. They have knowledge presented to them but fail to be able to apply it to their lives.
Proverbs 14:16 ESV
One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless.
The fool here throws caution to the wind and simply acts - failing to consider the outcome.
Proverbs 17:10 ESV
A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.
Wow, what a picture! A man of understanding will be impacted by a word of rebuke, but a beating will not touch a fool.
If you’ve seen the Captain America movies - you may have witnessed a bit of what this is like as Steve Rogers - full of heart and passion but lacking in size or ability willingly gets beaten up by a bully stating that he could do this all day. The fool takes the beating, the wise learns from the mistake (or the mistakes of others) and searches for a different way out.
Not only does Proverbs address the young and the foolish, but it also addresses

The Lazy - or the Sluggard

These are the individuals who do not plan ahead. They don’t work. They like sleep. In fact the writer of proverbs has some very sharp things to say to lazy people.
Proverbs 19:24 ESV
The sluggard buries his hand in the dish and will not even bring it back to his mouth.
Proverbs 20:4 ESV
The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing.
The lazy person will not plan a head by preparing the field. Today, I think this would be someone who doesn’t save for the future or plan ahead for that school project - among many others.
Proverbs 26:14 ESV
As a door turns on its hinges, so does a sluggard on his bed.
I love that image!
In a sort of backhanded way, the writers of Proverbs address the laziness of the sluggard, helping them see that if they won’t work, or plan, or get out of bed, then the outcome is death and unfulfilled desire.
Work is a gift from God. We’ll get to see this a bit more next week when we look at Ecclesiastes. My hope is that we will see that. We may not always like the work before us, but work is God’s provision for us. Work is His means of helping us live lives of meaning with dignity. Work is an act of worship.
Now, I know, you may be thinking - but I’m not working right now - this virus has messed everything up. We’ll get to that in a moment.
There is one other person that we get to consider explicitly in the book of Proverbs and that is...

Scoffers

Like the comments to the sluggard and the fool, the writers of Proverbs says some very sharp things to scoffers. These are people who not only refuse to learn or lack learning - like the fool, but they mock at it. In their stubbornness they think they know it all. They lack humility.
Proverbs 21:24 ESV
“Scoffer” is the name of the arrogant, haughty man who acts with arrogant pride.
Proverbs 9:8 ESV
Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you.
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Proverbs 13:1 ESV
A wise son hears his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.
I do wonder if there is a bit of the scoffer in each of us. There are those areas in which we think we know it all.
Even if we think that scoffer might be too strong a name for us, there is wisdom in seeking understanding. There is wisdom in receiving correction. There is wisdom to walking with an attitude of humility.
So we’ve considered a bit about wisdom and who the book is for. The last question that I think we get to consider is...

What will we learn from Proverbs?

As I said earlier, this book is rich with practical tidbits of wisdom for every day life.
We read earlier that we will learn some general things from the book of Proverbs:
Proverbs 1:2–4 ESV
To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth—
In reading Proverbs, we gain all of those things - wisdom generally and instruction in some specific matters.
Jim Neuheiser has said:
Opening Up Proverbs What Is Wisdom?

The book of Proverbs teaches you how to live skilfully in every area of your life including family, finances, friendships, speech, and work. The goal of wisdom is that you might achieve a life of beauty and significance so that at the end of your days you will have accomplished something worthwhile and lasting.

In Proverbs, we get to learn about...

Financial Management

Avoid Debt: The writer of proverbs tells us to run away from debt like a gazelle runs from a hunter ()
Save for the future: Whether it’s - preparing like an ant for the next season ; or leaving an inheritance for a couple of generations - Proverbs has so much to say to us about saving. I think that this is something so many of us are beginning to learn the hard way in this season. Who would have predicted that a little virus would have caused so much trouble in so many different ways? Now that everything is shutting down, entire sectors of the economy are being halted - it’s easy to see how someone could be out of work or need 3, 6, even 12 months of reserves.
Keep track of your stuff: () - know well the condition of your flocks - whether it’s money, or goods or resources - they don’t last for ever and need to be cared for.
One of the other things we learn from the writers is to have a healthy...

Work Ethic

work eithic
We’ve also seen this a bit as we considered the lazy person. Work is a blessing from God and bears fruit.
Proverbs 12:14 ESV
From the fruit of his mouth a man is satisfied with good, and the work of a man’s hand comes back to him.
Proverbs 18:9 ESV
Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys.
Proverbs 18:19 ESV
A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarreling is like the bars of a castle.
A poor work ethic is akin to someone who tears things down.
Proverbs 16:3 ESV
Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.
As we said before, work is a blessing from God. There is reward in hard and even smart work.
The challenge for some of us now is that the work may not be there. How do you demonstrate a biblical work ethic if you can’t go to school or your hours are cut or you have to work from home amidst the distractions?
Some ideas of fostering a work ethic:
set a schedule - it doesn’t have to be as early, but plan to wake up
challenge yourself - math games, learn a language, read a book (a friend of our incentivized her kids to read some good books even while the school system is still getting online learning together).
look around at what can be done at home - clean, fix, maintaining, etc.
The writers also talk about...

Family Matters

We could spend a great deal of time just on this part, but in brief, her is some of what proverbs says in relation to family:
Parents - raise your kids according to how they are uniquely designed: ()
Be faithful to your spouse - - urges men to delight in the wife of their youth.
A quarrelsome spouse is a painful thing - ; ; ; . - This seems to come up a lot - I wonder if Solomon and the other writers were speaking from experience here.
A virtuous woman is a blessing from God -
We could look at so many different areas of life - speech, honor, respect, etc. Part of the beauty of Proverbs is that it is practical tidbits that can be lived out every day - tidbits that we can learn for a lifetime.
These nuggets of wisdom can be pondered and chewed on. They call for us to contemplate on their ramifications. To slow down and reflect.

Closing Thoughts

So today, we’ve asked the questions that Proverbs seems to be calling us to ask:
What is wisdom? - knowledge that can be applied in every aspect of life. We also learned that the ultimate source of wisdom is God, the maker of heaven and earth.
Who is Proverbs for? - everyone - young, old, foolish, wise, haughty, and lazy
What can we learn? - more than we can cover in a short, simulcasted sermon - financial matters, work ethic, family matters, and so much more.
The book of James is sometimes referred to as the “proverbs of the new testament”. Its fast-paced and practical lessons present in prose what Proverbs presents in poetry. The first chapter of James even addresses the idea of difficult times and wisdom.
James 1:2–5 NLT
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.
As we seek to navigate this challenging season of our lives, let’s face it with joy knowing that God is at work, but let’s also seek God for wisdom - he will give, he is the source, he is the author of all wisdom.
Let’s pray.

Benediction:

Ephesians 3:20–21 ESV
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Discussion Questions:

When have you gained wisdom from someone else’s experience? Do you have a time when you wish you would have liked to learn from someone else?
Do you see yourself in any of the people that the writers of proverbs calls out - the young, fool, lazy, scoffer?
Will you consider reading one chapter of Proverbs for each day of the month?
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