We are studying Proverbs 2:1-11 for Sunday, June 14 (Flag Day, in the secular world), taking the next step in our exploration of the Biblical wisdom literature by reading part of the next long speech in praise of wisdom in Proverbs. [Some notes on the text are here.] Here are a few questions we might want to think or talk about:
Are there different kinds of “listening”? [For instance, is the kind of listening that can be affected by background noise different from the kind of listening that can be impeded by preconceived opinions?] What kinds?
If there are different kinds of listening, how are they involved in gaining wisdom?
What, concretely, do we think it means to “make your ear attentive” and “incline your heart” to wisdom and understanding?
[It might help to consider: What would be the opposite of that? What attitudes, physical or mental or emotional, would make our ears less attentive and our hearts less inclined to wisdom and understanding?]
The speaker advises his [or possibly her] “child” audience to try, relentlessly, to obtain or achieve wisdom and understanding. [More personal] What have we, ourselves, tried hard to obtain or accomplish in life? Has wisdom or understanding been on our list?
[More abstract, maybe] CAN wisdom or understanding, directly, be on the list of things we try to obtain or accomplish? Or is wisdom the kind of thing we can only get or achieve in the course of doing something else? If so … does this speaker give us any clue(s) as to what we would need to be doing to obtain or achieve wisdom in the process?
What seems to be the relationship of following the commandments of the God of Israel to the acquisition of wisdom in this speech? Why are those two things related in that way, do we think?
The Hebrew word translated “prudence” in verse 11 can be translated in other contexts “purpose” or “plan” or even “plot.” We might intuitively grasp the relationship of a “plan” or “plot” to the kind of thinking ahead, foreseeing possible pitfalls, and envisioning and preparing for contingencies that we probably associate with prudence.
How, do we think, does prudence depend on a deep understanding and accurate picture of ourselves? How does it depend on a deep understanding and accurate picture of other people? How does it depend on a deep understanding and accurate picture of the non-human world around us?
Can we have prudence without honesty, do we think? Why or why not?
[More theological, but also practical] What do we think is the relationship between wisdom, and prudence, and faith, do we think? What is the relationship between faith and “taking risks”? Between faith and deciding which risks to take and which risks not to take? [That is, how does faith seem to affect the way we make decisions about risks?] What makes us think this?