When I was a teen, I was advised to go through one chapter of Proverbs each day. Since there are 31 chapters, it’s easy to get through the book in a month. I did that with my Revised Standard Version, which has easier-to-understand language, and loved it. I recommend you do the same thing a few times in order to familiarize yourself with the surprisingly specific and amazingly relevant advice in this ancient book of wisdom.
However, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to see the benefit in slowing down. If you read 25 to 35 verses of Proverbs in one 10-to-15-minute session, you spend very little time on each one. They won’t make a very deep impression on your mind. As Studies in Life From Jewish Proverbs says, “Proverbs cannot be absorbed in quantity.”
When you slow down and spend more time on each proverb, you will be amazed at how much more depth you find.
Try this: Read Proverbs until you find one that stands out to you. Then spend your 10 or 15 minutes thinking about it. Ask yourself how this proverb applies to your life. And write down in your own words relevant conclusions you can draw from what this proverb is saying.
I’ll give you a few examples from my own journal, just looking at a few verses from Proverbs 17.
Verse 1: “Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife.” Contemplating that verse for a while, I wrote these thoughts in my journal:
- Family harmony is more valuable than family prosperity.
- Contention in a home undermines other blessings. Whatever other blessings you have, they don’t amount to much if you’re fighting with each other.
- A family is rich if its members live in unity.
- Harmony makes a poor family rich—strife makes a rich family poor.
You can get a lot of pleasure from just reading the proverb and thinking about it. You might drill deeper by reading the same verse in other translations. The King James Version is usually clear, but also try the rsv, the English Standard Version, the Moffatt translation and/or the Amplified Bible. Read, think, and write. It is a terrific mental and spiritual exercise.
Verse 2: “A wise servant shall have rule over a son that causeth shame, and shall have part of the inheritance among the brethren.” From my journal:
- God esteems character over heredity.
- The conduct of your life is more important than the privilege of your birth.
- With God, your inheritance is based on your actions, not your ancestry.
- Foolishness can cost you your crown!
- The roles of the servant and the ruler can change, based on their choices.
- Foolishness can make a prince into a servant—wisdom can make a servant into a prince.
If you really think about what that verse is saying, it will teach you a lot about God and the way He thinks!
Verse 3: “The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the Lord trieth the hearts.” I wrote in my journal:
- Men refine metals—God refines hearts.
- As heat is the force that refines silver and gold, trial is the tool that refines character.
- God is the master Metal-smith, purifying human hearts like a man purifies silver and gold.
- This is His greatest project as an artisan! When we feel the heat, we can trust in the skill of the Craftsman who is laboring to perfect us.
This is a proverb that can really help you rejoice in trial! Commit this image into your memory, and it will be there when you need it!
Verse 5: “Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker: and he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished.” From my journal:
- God hates haughtiness and arrogance. He hates a man looking down on another man.
- Mocking a person is mocking the God who made him. God takes it personally—He feels a sense of protectiveness toward the poor and downtrodden. Never lose this perspective in dealing with fellow man. Each individual has a Creator to whom you are accountable.
- God wants to build within each of us the same concern and compassion that He has.
- When you see someone down, the proper response is never gladness—but compassion.
- “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked,” God says—nor in their poverty, nor their calamity.
- A man of character may fall into poverty—righteous people suffer trials—but the man who mocks him or is glad is a sinner, thinking like the “accuser of the brethren,” and will be judged for it. His guilt is absolute; his punishment assured.
This proverb reveals a lot about the love of God! And it is just one of over 900 verses in the book, all filled with nuggets of spiritual understanding worth setting your mind on and making your own.
God wants to supply you with wonderful understanding, guidance and wisdom. He is crying out to give it to you. He has spread it out before you in the book of Proverbs. It’s up to you to take it!