Enigmas and Dark Sayings
This article originally appeared in the July 24 edition of the Cottonwood Chronicle
© 07.22.08 By D. Eric Williams
In the book of Proverbs, King Solomon says he wrote to give prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion - a wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel, to understand a proverb and an enigma, the words of the wise and their dark sayings (Proverbs 1:4-6). There have been many catechisms and curriculums developed throughout the history of the Church, each designed to educate Christians in the wisdom of God. There is nothing wrong with this as far as it goes. Nonetheless, if we want to learn to think like God (indeed we have the mind of Christ, 1 Corinthians 2:16), we do well to look to His book of instruction first.
The book of Proverbs is designed to teach a person to think in a particular manner. The pithy sayings of the book seem to be straight forward and easy to understand but the truth is they are often enigmas, riddles and dark sayings. Certainly we may glean some benefit from a cursory reading of the Proverbs, but in order to profit from them as God intended, we are required to meditate upon their meaning.
You see, God's thoughts are unintelligible to the natural mind (Isaiah 55:8-9). Indeed the mind of the Almighty is foolishness to the unregenerate man (1 Corinthians 2:14). In his natural born state man has no desire to understand God or His ways because he is at war with his Creator (Romans 8:7). However, when a person is born again, he is made a new creation. The old, Adamic nature is crucified in Christ and a new man is raised to life in the Lord. As a new creation I no longer have the old nature to contend with. Yet, that old nature left behind sin I must strive to remove from my life. This is illustrated by the Apostle Paul when he says it is no longer I who do [things contrary to God's law], but sin that dwells within me and if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it but sin that dwells in me (Romans 7:17, 20). Therefore, even though we are new creations, it is incumbent upon us to root out the sin that remains and strive to walk even as Jesus walked.
The Bible plainly commands us to imitate God and Christ and that means this process of maturation doesn't happen without our effort. Certainly we require the Holy Spirit's power in order to cultivate the new creation but we must not forget we have a part to play in our own development. Our duty consists of learning the ways of God and putting them into practice. Which brings us back to the book of Proverbs. If we want to learn to think (and thereby act), as God thinks, there is no better place to begin than the book of Proverbs.
The Proverbs are most helpful in transforming our mind if we read and study them daily. I am not suggesting you should neglect the rest of the Scripture. Rather, I am suggesting you maintain your regular reading of the whole Bible even as you take time each day to meditate upon a verse or two from the Proverbs.
Next week we will discuss how to properly consider a selection from Proverbs, but in preparation for that I want to conclude with a suggested Bible reading plan. Thus, reading sequentially, Sunday: 5 chapters from the Psalms through the Song of Solomon. Monday: 3 chapters in Genesis to Deuteronomy. Tuesday: 3 chapters in Joshua to 2 Kings. Wednesday: 3 chapters in Job to Esther. Thursday: 3 chapters in Isaiah to Malachi. Friday: 3 chapters in Matthew to Acts. Saturday: 3 chapters in Romans to The Revelation. If you follow this plan, you will read through the Bible in one year.
Next week: Proverbs 30:18-19.