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Thought Provoking Proverbs


From or About the Book of Proverbs

... The Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Prov.2:6. All verses are from the NIV unless noted otherwise.)

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Make the Good People Nice!

"Make the bad people good, and the good people nice," is sup­posed to have been a child's prayer. It makes the point, with proverbic brevity, that there are details of character small enough to escape the mesh of the law and the broadsides of the prophets, and yet decisive in personal dealings. [The book of] Proverbs moves in this realm, asking what a person is like to live with, or to employ; how he manages his affairs, his time and himself. Thus good lady, for instance--does she talk too much? That cheerful soul--is he bearable in the early morn­ing? And this friend who is always dropping in--here is some advice for him...and for that rather aimless lad...

"But [the book] is not a...book of manners: it offers a key to life. The samples of behavior which it holds up to view are all assessed by one criterion, which could be summed up in the question, 'Is this wis­dom or folly?' This is a unifying approach to life, because it suits the most commonplace realms as fully as the most exalted." (Derek Kid­ner in Proverbs--An Introduction and Commentary)

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The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives. (Proverbs 27:21)

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A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. (Proverbs 14:30; Proverbs 17:22)

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The first to present his case seems right, till any other comes forward and questions him. (Proverbs 18: 17)

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A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control. (Proverbs 29: 11)

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Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, but much increase comes by the strength of the ox. Prov.14:4,NASV

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"Neat but Negative: Orderliness can reach the point of sterility. This proverb is not a plea for slovenliness, physical or moral, but for the readiness to accept upheaval, and a mess to clear up, as the price of growth. It has many applications to personal, institutional and spiritual life, and could well be inscribed in the minute-books of religious bod­ies, to foster a fanner's outlook, rather than a curator's." --Derek Kid­ner

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One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.

A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. (Proverbs 11:24-25)

Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you.

Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning....

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid....

At the end of your life you will groan...You will say, "How I hated discipline! How my heart spurned correction!

….I would not obey my teachers or listen to my instructors. I have come to the brink of utter ruin."

(Proverbs 9:8-9; Proverbs 12:1; Proverbs 5:11-14a)

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A man's own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the Lord. (Proverbs 19:3)

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"Despite the centuries which separate us from the authors of these sayings, the unchanging continuities of human existence remain: making friends, coping with sexuality, handling money, responding to poverty, making a living, learning through loss, muddling through dif­ficulties, facing death, and so on. These are constant human themes, and Proverbs addresses them all. Wisdom is about helping people to cope; about seeing things in a fresh way which gives new resources for living; and about working out what living for God means in the or­dinarinesses of daily life. The book of Proverbs brings many of these themes to life in vivid, imaginative, often humorous pictures. It puts a mirror up to our behavior and says, 'Are you like this? Is there a better way to live?'" (David Atkinson in The Message of Proverbs)

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A Practical Suggestion

Here's a testimony I heard. A Christian man said that for some time he and his wife and children had been following this practice, with great benefit: While eating dinner together they would devote some time to discussing one verse from Proverbs. A great habit.

You could read the evening's verse from several translations. Then think about what it meant, how it might be applied today, any examples of people who've followed or violated its principles--with what results, etc. Family members could take turns picking out the verse for discussion.

The father said that this promoted the habits of meditating on God's Word, feeling at ease in discussing it publicly, and applying it in practical ways. It also provided a natural opportunity to bring up personal problems or questions related to the verse. A good idea.


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The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 10:10