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Seek wisdom every day from Proverbs

By Dr. Thurman R. Hayes Jr.

When I was in my 20s, I read the Bible through for the first time, using a One-Year Bible Plan. This is still an excellent plan. Each day, you read a selection from the Old Testament, the New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs.

One of the experiences that stands out about that year was the wisdom I was gaining by reading Proverbs. The reading from Proverbs was the last thing, and it seemed to always leave me nodding my head and saying, “This makes sense.”

I want to encourage you to make Proverbs a regular part of your Bible reading. For many years, Billy Graham would read a chapter of Proverbs each day. There are 31 chapters in the book, so he would cycle through the whole book each month. In the One Year Bible Plan, you can read the whole Bible, including all of Proverbs, in the course of a year.

Recently I’ve been thinking about Proverbs again, since I’m preaching a sermon series from that book of wisdom. Here are a few important things to note.

First, “What is a Proverb?” Our culture has modern proverbs. These are catchy little sayings that contain commonsense advice: “The early bird gets the worm.” “Look before you leap.” “A stitch in time saves nine.”

Biblical proverbs are similar, in that they also have a catchy quality to them. But biblical proverbs offer much more than common sense and good advice. Biblical proverbs offer us the wisdom of God for how life works well.

The Hebrew word for proverb means “to represent; to be like.” In other words, the proverbs are like models that show us what works well and what doesn’t.

When the Wright brothers took to the air from the Outer Banks sand in 1903, they did so with a great deal of confidence that their plane would actually fly. Why? Because they had tested different wing designs in wind tunnels before risking their necks in an actual flight.

The Proverbs offer us the opportunity to do that. They show us in advance what will fly and what will crash in life.

So read them. Know them. Apply them.

But, you may ask, “What if I have already crashed through poor choices?” There is grace and a new beginning waiting for you.

Old Testament scholar Ray Ortland says this:

“As we come to the book of Proverbs, God does not intend to crush us with layer upon layer of demand. He intends to help us. The book of Proverbs is practical help from God for weak people like us stumbling through daily life. It is his counsel for the perplexed, his strength for the defeated, his warning for the proud, his mercy for the broken.”

That’s because ultimately, the Proverbs come from the heart of Jesus. He came to heal the broken. In fact, he was broken on a cross so we can be made whole. He wants to come alongside you as a Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6).

Turn to him today as your Savior and King. Begin to do life with him. Try his way instead of yours. Proverbs will help you know that way of wisdom.

Dr. Thurman R. Hayes Jr. is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.