the art of living

Normally I get all excited about a Psalm and then blog about it. I still love the Psalms, but there is a well known book right next door that may contain the most well known (if not least applied) verses in the Bible.

It's been said that Psalms is for the heart and Proverbs for the head. All those little verses were designed to stick in our brain. Like "Got Milk?" and "Where's the Beef?" and "Just do it.", we remember them. They are axiomatic, aphoristic. They click with us. We get them. They make sense. When we read one we say, "oh yeah, that's so true."

Like these:

25:20: " Singing light songs to the heavyhearted
is like pouring salt in their wounds."

25:11: " The right word at the right time
is like a custom-made piece of jewelry."

What did you think when you read those? They are so true. They make sense. They are true to life. What's worse than someone being cheery when you are sad? And how precious is it when someone speaks just the right words to you at just the right time? Worth more than gold. They make sense because that's how life is. It doesn't matter that they were written 2,700 years ago.

I have heard the Bible called "God's Instruction Manual". To be honest I find that description pretty awful. It puts the word of God on par with books that tell us how to clean a waffle iron or set the time on our DVD player. But I understand the sentiment. If you want to know how to do life, go to the Bible. The beef I have with the phrase is that the purpose of the Bible is not only to instruct but to transform. God wants us to study His word so that we will be changed, not just instructed. Maybe we can change the phrase to "God's Transformation Manual" but that's just awkward so I'll drop that altogether and get back to what I was talking about.

The thing about Proverbs is that they ought to be savored, mulled over and thought about. They are easy to memorize. You probably have a few memorized even if you don't know chapter and verse. Just about every aspect of life is talked about in the Proverbs from sex to money to marriage to how to be a friend. It is a book about the art of living. And it's one that is best read slowly and thoughtfully and repeatedly. With 31 chapters you can just pick the date and read that chapter.

But the kicker with Proverbs is application. Think what a difference it woudl make it we applied just these few:

21:23 Watch your words and hold your tongue;
you'll save yourself a lot of grief.

16:18 Pride goes before destruction,
a haughty spirit before a fall.

Just those two. Wow. If I actually applied those to my Want to avoid destruction? Want to avoid causing yourself a lot of grief? Hold your tongue. Don't be prideful. Amazing. True. Simple. Proverbial. There is, literally, a lifetime of instruction in those 31 chapters, all of it meant to change our behavior. All of it meant to help us be people of wisdom. To be people who live life well. To be artists at life and thus reflect our Creator.

So let's is the 5th. Chapter 5 starts off with this, from The Message (fantastic for Proverbs)

Dear friend, pay close attention to this, my wisdom; listen very closely to the way I see it.
Then you'll acquire a taste for good sense; what I tell you will keep you out of trouble.

That sounds like a good start to me.

1 comment:

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