Psalms and Proverbs
Who doesn’t love to praise God with grateful hearts for all He has done, is doing and will do in our lives?! All who know and love God, rely on God and look to God for help, seeking His wisdom in our prayer and praise. If you are reading this while just getting to know God, then this might help you realize the love God has for you and the help He is ready to provide.
So, over the next few weeks let’s come to the Lord with honest prayer and glorious praise by reading a Psalm a day coupled with a Proverb a day. Prayer, Praise and Wisdom. There just isn’t a better way to learn to live than to seek God’s face with honest prayer and praise on our lips. Right?
PSALMS – HONEST PRAYER AND GLORIOUS PRAISE
Let me introduce you to the Psalms through the words of Eugene Peterson, theologian and prolific writer and translator of God’s Word into today’s language. We will be using The Message paraphrase in our scripture references. He says, “Most Christians for most of the Christian centuries have learned to pray by praying the Psalms. The Hebrews, with several centuries of a head start on us in matters of prayer and worship, provide us with this prayer book that gives us a language adequate for responding to the God who speaks to us.”
Peterson relates, “The impulse to pray is deep within us, at the very center of our created being, and so practically anything will do to get us started—“Help” and “Thanks!” are our basic prayers. But honesty and thoroughness don’t come quite as spontaneously. I am convinced that only as we develop raw honesty and detailed thoroughness in our praying do we become whole, truly human in Jesus Christ, who also prayed the Psalms.”
How well God must like you—
you don’t hang out at Sin Saloon,
you don’t slink along Dead-End Road,
you don’t go to Smart-Mouth College.
2-3 Instead you thrill to God’s Word,
you chew on Scripture day and night.
You’re a tree replanted in Eden,
bearing fresh fruit every month,
Never dropping a leaf,
always in blossom.
4-5 You’re not at all like the wicked,
who are mere windblown dust—
Without defense in court,
unfit company for innocent people.
6 God charts the road you take.
The road they take is Skid Row.
TRUTH: “How God must like you…” “God charts the road you take.”
Hold that thought while we couple this knowing of God’s love and plan for us with the wisdom of Proverbs which are skills for living the Godly life well. “Many people think that what’s written in the Bible has mostly to do with getting people into heaven—getting right with god, saving their eternal souls. It does have to do with that, of course, but there’s more, much more. It is equally concerned with living on this earth—living well, living in robust sanity.” –Peterson
Wisdom is coupled with Jesus’ prayer, “on earth as it is in heaven”, for everyday living. “Wisdom is the art of living skillfully in whatever actual conditions we find ourselves. It has virtually nothing to do with information as such, with knowledge as such. A college degree is no certification of wisdom—nor is it primarily concerned with keeping us out of moral mud puddles, although it does have a profound moral effect upon us.” (Peterson)
Wisdom has to do with becoming skillful in honoring our parents and raising our children, handling our money and conducting our sexual lives, going to work and exercising leadership, using words well and treating friends kindly, eating and drinking healthily, cultivating emotions within ourselves and attitudes toward others that make for peace.
Threaded through all these items is the insistence that the way we think of and respond to God is the most practical thing we do. In matter of everyday practicality, nothing, absolutely nothing, takes precedence over God.
Proverbs concentrates on these concerns more than any other book in the Bible. Attention to the here and now is everywhere present in the stories and legislation, the prayers and the sermons, that are spread over the thousands of pages of the Bible. Proverbs distills it all into riveting images and aphorisms that keep us connected in holy obedience to the ordinary.
Proverbs 1: 1-20
A Manual for Living
1 1-6 These are the wise sayings of Solomon,
David’s son, Israel’s king—
Written down so we’ll know how to live well and right,
to understand what life means and where it’s going;
A manual for living,
for learning what’s right and just and fair;
To teach the inexperienced the ropes
and give our young people a grasp on reality.
There’s something here also for seasoned men and women,
still a thing or two for the experienced to learn—
Fresh wisdom to probe and penetrate,
the rhymes and reasons of wise men and women.
Start with God
7 Start with God—the first step in learning is bowing down to God;
only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning.
8-19 Pay close attention, friend, to what your father tells you;
never forget what you learned at your mother’s knee.
Wear their counsel like flowers in your hair,
like rings on your fingers.
Dear friend, if bad companions tempt you,
don’t go along with them.
If they say—“Let’s go out and raise some hell.
Let’s beat up some old man, mug some old woman.
Let’s pick them clean
and get them ready for their funerals.
We’ll load up on top-quality loot.
We’ll haul it home by the truckload.
Join us for the time of your life!
With us, it’s share and share alike!”—
Oh, friend, don’t give them a second look;
don’t listen to them for a minute.
They’re racing to a very bad end,
hurrying to ruin everything they lay hands on.
Nobody robs a bank
with everyone watching,
Yet that’s what these people are doing—
they’re doing themselves in.
When you grab all you can get, that’s what happens:
the more you get, the less you are.
WISDOM: “Start with God—the first step in learning is bowing down to God”
Thank you for loving us so much that you gave us your Son, Jesus to save us from our own sins. Thank you for loving us so much that you also follow up with teaching us to live well, to live skillfully by your wisdom and strength. We begin with You, asking You what You want for us, what you want to accomplish in us for today. We are desperate for your wisdom, insight and understanding for the world we live in now as we prepare for life with your forever. Thank you, Father for loving us. Thank you, Lord for saving us. Thank you, Holy Spirit for guiding us. I’m listening ready to obey.
In Jesus Name, Amen