two woman look at a book in an impressionist painting

Reflecting on Proverbs 1

We are studying Proverbs 1, with attention to verses 1-4, 7-8, 10, 20-22, and 32-33, for Sunday, June 8. This is the introduction to the Biblical book of Proverbs (mishlei), which sets up the themes of the collection, and gives us a long parental warning about not being fools and a lecture from Woman Wisdom about the high cost of not paying attention. [Some notes on the text are here.] Here are some questions we might want to ask ourselves about the text:

The opening verses address “the simple,” “the young,” “the wise,” and “the discerning.” Are we members of any of those groups, do we think? Which one(s)? Why do we say that?

Is anyone left out? Who? What does that tell us?

What do we understand by “the fear of YHWH” in verse 7? What makes that the beginning of knowledge?

[More personal] What is our own experience with “the fear of the HOLY ONE”? Has it been significant for us? How? Positively, negatively, both/neither?

[This is a serious question about the verses that aren’t part of the Uniform Series lesson] Do “sinners” really talk like this – “let’s lie in wait for blood”? And if they did, would it be enticing? Assuming the answer is normally “no” – although maybe sometimes sinners do talk like this, and sometimes it is enticing, but it seems like more often sinners aren’t that obvious – what is going on in verses 9-19?

What exactly should the “child” being addressed in verse 8 be on the lookout for?

Is Woman Wisdom heartless, or just realistic? Or can we hear her speech differently from either of those possibilities? How?

What do those who listen to Wisdom actually hear? That is – do we have a sense of what her instruction contains? Where do we get that from, and what does it seem to contain?

Is Woman Wisdom’s message similar to the message of the prophets we’ve been studying the past three months? Or different? How?

What are the implications for us of those similarities and differences?

two women in antique dress reading

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