Proverbs on Memorial Day

Welcome to my current musings. I am reading the book of Proverbs in my Passion Translation Bible. I’ve spent a week on the first two chapters, so it will definitely take me over thirty-one days to get through it, but that’s my plan. I have thought of the thirty-one-day reading that many do as a month’s devotion; some do this repeatedly. Every time I read a chapter of Proverbs, I’m intimidated by the number of topics covered. So I am taking it slow and pondering as I go.

As we approach Memorial Day in the U.S. I pause to remember all those who have gone before. What sacrifices others have made for us all to stand where we are today is unfathomable. We have all heard stories of the past, but not often what happened in our personal family histories. Some memories are so painful, we will not share them even on our deathbed. Some are so silly or joyful, we have heard them many times, embellished with each telling. No matter what is in your own past, our collective past as a nation, or those tales from our long ago ancestors recorded in the Bible, all these tales become a part of our own tales. Our lives build on those that went before and those to come will build on what we have done.

So how do these two themes connect? King David’s son Solomon wrote the book of Proverbs, as he reflected on his life and what he learned from being the wisest of men who ended up doing the foolish things God had told him not to do. Many of us have to learn from our own mistakes; it is the wise one who learns from others’ mistakes and avoids repeating them, for those who forget history are destined to repeat it. The entire book of Proverbs encourages us to follow hard after God; to seek and find what is good and what will enhance our life here on earth and our eternity. I take the following from The Message Bible.

Wise Sayings of Solomon

A Manual for Living

1-6 These are the wise sayings of Solomon,
    David’s son, Israel’s king—
Written down so we’ll know how to live well and right,
    to understand what life means and where it’s going;
A manual for living,
    for learning what’s right and just and fair;
To teach the inexperienced the ropes
    and give our young people a grasp on reality.
There’s something here also for seasoned men and women,
    still a thing or two for the experienced to learn—
Fresh wisdom to probe and penetrate,
    the rhymes and reasons of wise men and women.

God provided the entire Bible as a manual for living, but Proverbs delves into the deep meat with both feet. So where do you start?

Start with God

Start with God—the first step in learning is bowing down to God;
    only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning.

What will we gain from reading Proverbs? Let’s look at the benefits I found in the Passion Translation.

Proverbs 1:33 But the one who always listens to me
    will live undisturbed in a heavenly peace.
    Free from fear, confident and courageous,
    that one will rest unafraid and sheltered from the storms of life.”

My instigation for beginning the book of Proverbs came from someone (sorry, I don’t remember whom) who concentrated on the first eight chapters of Proverbs because she truly wanted to know the wisdom of God and follow it. As a follow-up to studying the book of James, it made sense to me to do the same. James tells us God freely gives wisdom to those who ask:

James 1:5 And if anyone longs to be wise, ask God for wisdom and he will give it! He won’t see your lack of wisdom as an opportunity to scold you over your failures but he will overwhelm your failures with his generous grace.

Who better than King Solomon, possessing more wisdom from God than any man before him, could lead us into the wisdom we lack? So, according to the Passion Translation, reading Proverbs will develop the wisdom you lack, freely given from our gracious Father God. Also, who doesn’t want to live in heavenly peace, free from fear, resting sheltered and unafraid? I see this as a good definition of the perfect peace we find when our mind dwells on the Lord! I pray we all find the grace to experience Shalom as we remember those who gave their lives for us to live in freedom. A blessed Memorial Day weekend to you all. I will connect with you again next week, Lord willing.

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