Over the last three weeks in our Sunday gatherings, we’ve been studying the portion of the Whole Story of the Bible known as “The Wisdom of Israel.” It’s important to remember how we’ve been thinking about wisdom as we do so. Namely, wisdom is applied skill and competence. It is an understanding that Yahweh himself has hardwired wisdom into all of creation and all of humanity (Proverbs 8:22-31). It is the inner logic for how everything works, and the ‘secret code’ to discovering a good life. Therefore, in the words of the Bible Project,
The wisdom books of the Old Testament offer three different [but complementary] perspectives on how to live well in God’s good world. They reveal the collected wisdom of generations of godly people, and invite us to consider the complexity and simplicity of living wisely.
The three books they are referring to are Job, Ecclesiastes, and Proverbs, which we’ve now completed as the first part of our exploration of wisdom. But there are two books yet to go, which make up the lyrical wisdom of the Old Testament—Psalms and the Song of Songs.
Now, why should you care about these books? Because we all want to live a good life. We all want our lives to mean something, and to be spent well for a greater purpose. And we all desire peace, happiness, contentment, and joy as we invest the precious moments of our living that God has provided. What we’ve been discovering is that wisdom is the path to a good life.
So, if you’d like to study further—and I hope you do—I recommend you listen to this latest installment in The Whole Story, my sermon on Ecclesiastes. In particular, the introduction provides a metaphor to understand how Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes work together and balance each other.
Then, head on over to The Bible Project to watch their Wisdom Series on these three books. Just click on the image below to open yourself up to three beautifully done short films that bring clarity to this foundational part of the Scriptures, as well as a wealth of additional resources.
If you’d like to study Ecclesiastes in particular, you can peruse additional study resources here.
I’d like to remind you that this coming Sunday we will be making our way into Psalms. If you’ve been following along with the Read Scripture app, you’ve already read through Psalms once this year, so I’m not asking you to read all 150 chapters in preparation! Rather, my plan is to spend a little time with an overview of the Psalter, and then dive into Psalm 34 as an example for how to understand and apply this lyrical wisdom to our lives. If you’d like to prepare, check out the Bible Project page on the Psalms.
Finally, if you haven’t already, you should download thenew Calvary app. It is the fastest way to access all of these sermons and articles. And, if you’ve been blessed by the ministry of Calvary, it also provides an easy way to give electronically right in the app. It is the generous support of people like you that make this content available, that you might mature as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Day Twenty-Six: A Morning Conversation With King Solomon
A conversation that happened this morning as I came upon a visitor in our fireplace room….
Day Nineteen: God Chose Her, Not You
The doctrine of God’s rule and reign in and over all things comes crashing into the human conception of the self-made man. We are tempted to think we have so much to do with our happinesses. But the wisdom found from James speaks a wakefulness into the pondering of our circumstances—the good gifts we have come not from our own hands, but by the grace and providence of our heavenly Father. And the wisdom of Solomon makes clear—one of man’s greatest gifts is something only God can give, an understanding wife.
Day Seventeen: The Great Gain Of Godly Contentment
We live in a world where the temptation is constant to believe the amount of our wealth and possessions directly translates to our joy and happiness. The Bible, once again, confronts our culture and holds out another possibility. Namely, “better” does not imply “more,” “bigger,” or “expensive.” It suggests that the reason you still haven’t found what you are looking for is because you’ve been searching in all the wrong places. Wisdom opens our eyes and hearts to deeper wells of contentment.
Day Fifteen: I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me
I always feel like somebody's watching me. And I have no privacy. Woh, I always feel like somebody's watching me. Tell me is it just a dream? So sang Rockwell in the dawning of my high school years back in 1984. All the cool kids were singing it at the time, and its the tune that sprang to mind when I read this similar sentiment this morning: Yahweh is watching everywhere, keeping his eye on both the evil and the good. (Proverbs 15:3, New Living Translation)
Day Fourteen: Death By Living
For those of us desirous to live a good life, we’ve known since the very beginning of this book that it begins with a healthy awe, reverence, and trembling before the God of the universe whose name is Yahweh (Proverbs 1:7). And here we are again reminded that this humble posture before the Holy One is a fountain overflowing with life.
Day Thirteen: You Can’t Always Get What You Want
One of the key assumptions we’ve been working with as we make our way through the wisdom literature is that God has hardwired wisdom into the way creation (and the creatures within it…us) operates. It was there at the beginning. It’s the inner logic of everything, and the secret code for how it works. (see Proverbs 8:22-31)
Day Eleven: A Pig Is Still A Pig
Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion. (Proverbs 11:22, English Standard Version) “Well…I never!” she replied to the King. Reading this proverb, it seems highly probable to me, given the stories of King Solomon and all the women in his life (1 Kings 11:3), that this was probably a proverb born from experience. He comes along a beautiful woman, of high social standing, of influence and power; but in his interactions with her, he begins to see her true self shining through all her external adornments. She has no discretion—she is a woman of loose and dissolute conversation, her mind and conscience are defiled. There’s a beauty for the eye, but the corruption of her character slowly transforms how Solomon sees her, and no amount of jewelry will cover that up.
Day Twenty-Nine: Please—Quietly Hold Your Tongue
Anger. noun. “a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.” (New Oxford American Dictionary) As I entered day twenty-nine of Proverbs this morning, and came to 29:11, it struck me that this book has quite a bit to say about anger, strife, wrath, quarreling, fights, and rage. It is a theme that Solomon keeps coming back to, probably because he knows that it is a theme woven through humanity and history. Sometimes the best way to see a theme is to pull on that string so all the wisdom he has offered comes together for our observation. The accumulation helps us feel the weight of it.