Lesson 1

First Things First

(Proverbs 1, 2 & 4)
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Introduction: This week we begin our study of the book of Proverbs. The book was mostly written by King Solomon, son of King David. Solomon is called the wisest man that ever lived. (See 1 Kings 4:29-34) We have lots to learn from him. While you know I like to study the Bible in context as much as possible, the lesson this quarter looks at concepts in Proverbs rather than studying it verse by verse. This week the concept we study is wisdom. Would you like a little more wisdom? If so, let's jump into our lesson!

  1. What We Can Learn.

    1. Read Proverbs 1:1-3. If you take a course in history, computers or biology, you know what it is you will be learning. Let's list what it is that Solomon says we will be learning from Proverbs. (Wisdom, discipline, understanding words of insight, prudence, and doing what is right, just and fair.)

      1. I'll bet we would all like to be wiser. Do you want to be more disciplined? How would that help you? In what areas of your life?

      2. Does Solomon promise that we will be more understanding in general, or is he specific? (He seems to be talking about understanding solutions ("words of insight").

        1. Why is it especially important to understand "words of insight?" (Jesus tells us ( Luke 8:9-10) that as Christians we understand secrets and mysteries that the world does not. I'm going to be talking about this more in the sermon today.)

      3. Solomon says (v.3) that we will learn to do what is right, just and fair. Are those always the same thing?

        1. Is it difficult to do what is right, just and fair?

        2. I thought we were studying ideas. Why do you think Solomon injects the idea of DOING what is right, just and fair?

  2. Who Can Learn.

    1. Read Proverbs 1:4-6. Who needs to learn from the Proverbs? (This covers everyone.)

      1. Who and what especially need help according to Solomon? (The simple and the young.)

        1. Do the young know they need help?

        2. Do our schools teach our young people "discretion" in addition to knowledge?

        3. If you know you are not too smart, what does this book hold out as a special promise? (Wisdom)

      2. Can you be too smart or too wise to learn from this book?(No, verse 5 tells us it is for the "advanced" group too.)

      3. There is all sorts of advice going around. Will Proverbs help us with sorting out current advice? (Verse 6 indicates the Proverbs will help us to sort out the "wisdom" that we hear today to determine if it truly is wisdom.)

  3. First Things First.

    1. Read Proverbs 1:7. What is the foundation upon which all knowledge is built? (The fear of the Lord.)

      1. What does it mean to fear God? (Jamieson, Fausset and Brown say in their commentary fearing God means reverent trust, love and obedience. The Hebrew word "yirah" can mean actual fear, but that does not seem to be the meaning here.)

      2. Do you know systems of learning that are not built on the "fear of the Lord?"

      3. If fearing the Lord is the foundation for all learning, should we send our children to public schools?

      4. What does Solomon say (v.7) you are if you don't want to learn wisdom and discipline? (Stupid. Vine's dictionary says this word can be translated "morally undesirable.")

  4. Why Wisdom?

    1. Let's read on. Read Proverbs 1:8-9. Why does Solomon mention parental teaching immediately after he says the "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge?" (Parents are partners with God in teaching their children.)

      1. If you are a parent, how are you as a partner with God?

      2. Solomon says that if we listen to our parents it will be like having a neat hat and wearing jewelry? Is that right?

        1. What is meant by a "garland to grace your head?" (This is something worn by royalty, high-ranking people.)

        2. What is meant by a "chain around your neck?" (A chain around your neck is a mark of success. See Genesis 41:42 and Daniel 5:29)

        3. Together, what is the message of the garland and the chain? (These are marks of distinction. It means that children who obey the Godly instruction of their parents will stand above the crowd. They will not only have their lives as an "ornament," they may actually find success in life.)

    2. Let's continue this idea by skipping over to Proverbs 4:1-7. Verse 6 tells us that wisdom will protect us and watch over us. Have you found that to be true? In what ways can wisdom protect and keep us? (How many bad things happened in your life because you were foolish? Disobedient to God and your parents? Getting wisdom allows you to learn from the mistakes of others - and not your own mistakes.)

      1. What does verse 7 say is the worth of wisdom?

  5. How to Get Wisdom

    1. Read Proverbs 2:1-6. Can we play a tape of the Proverbs under our pillow at night as we sleep and just absorb wisdom?

      1. What is required to get wisdom?

      2. Is it easy? (We have to dig for it!)

        1. Are you digging for it? Where does getting wisdom rank in your daily priorities?

      3. From whom do we get wisdom? (The Lord.)

        1. Does God have a monopoly on dispensing wisdom?

  6. The Right Kind of Wisdom.

    1. The answer to the question I just asked, "Does God have a monopoly on dispensing wisdom" may turn on what kind of wisdom we seek. Read Genesis 3:1-5. Is this an offer of wisdom outside of God?

        1. Our lesson says (Thursday) "all so-called sacred writings outside the Bible basically teach the necessity of a balance between good and evil as the foundation of wisdom." Do you agree? Does this sound like the Genesis 3 offer we just read? (Yes. God gives us the wisdom of doing right. He does not seek to give us a broad knowledge of good and evil. There are not very many "new" ideas. Therefore, God is the original source of all wisdom. The point for us is that we should not look any where else if we want to get wisdom.)

    2. Read Proverbs 2:7-11. Who is protected in these verses? (Verses 7 and 8 suggest that God's wisdom is intended to lead us to be upright, blameless, just and faithful. If we follow in that path we will be protected.)

      1. Does this idea square with what you have observed in life?

      2. Verses 9-11 tell us that God wants us to understand "what is right." The conclusion is that (v.11) "discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you." Can you think of a time when you would have been protected if you had exercised discretion or understanding?

      3. If you agree that discretion protects us and understanding guards us, is that the proper way to understand vv. 7-8 that say the upright are protected?

    3. Let's step back for just a moment. Is the quest for wisdom also a quest for salvation?

      1. If you say, "No," salvation is not a matter of works or study, then why would you want wisdom? (This highlights a problem with those who want to divorce faith from works. We supposedly want salvation so that we can live with God forever. Yet working to obtain wisdom not only helps us to draw closer to God now, but it helps to shield us from evil. Heaven is getting to know God and being beyond the reach of evil. Getting wisdom now is a taste of heaven!)

    4. Friend, do you want to experience part of what heaven has in store for you right now? Then stay with us this quarter to learn more of God's wisdom found in the book of Proverbs!

  7. Next Week: A Star to Guide the Humble.

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