Spend the next thirty-one days reading through the thirty-one chapters of Proverbs, one of the most commonly read wisdom books of the Bible. On occasion you'll find some personal reflections from the exercise as well. Please feel free to leave comments, questions, or thoughts from your reading as you go.
Day 1 | Read Proverbs 1: The purpose of the book of Proverbs is made known to us in this chapter - wisdom, discipline, and understanding. We are to make it our goal to learn what is right, just, and fair so we can gain knowledge, insight, and discernment. I encourage you to meditate on the following verses. You may even want to commit them to memory:
- Proverbs 1:7, "Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline." -Prov 1:7
- Proverbs 1:33, "But all who listen to me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm." -Prov 1:33
Reverence for the Lord and His Word is where we begin our journey for wisdom and we are promised peace when we pursue it.
Wisdom offers herself to everyone. Am I listening and taking her up on her offer?
Day 2 | Read Proverbs 2: We are told the LORD is the source of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding and we should be seeking wisdom and insight. Take a few moments to reflect on what you are seeking in your life. I encourage you to mediate on or memorize the following:
"Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe." -Prov 2:11
Day 3 | Read Proverbs 3: Here is revealed God's ties to wisdom - creation, blessings, and protection. There are promises wisdom makes throughout this chapter too - long life, riches and honor, guide for life, satisfaction, and happiness to name a few. Meditate on the verses below:
"Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation." -Prov 3:3-4
Day 4 | Read Proverbs 4: The beginning of this chapter is interesting as it encourages the reader to develop good judgment if anything else at all. Also included are promises of wisdom, which produce motivation - honored, guarded, won't be held back or stumble. Commit to memory this verse as a reminder for why we study:
"Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do! And whatever else you do, develop good judgment." -Prov 4:7
The last five verses of the chapter address exercising good judgment: guarding your heart (v.23), disciplining your mouth (v. 24), fixing your eyes on what is right (v. 25), and walking a straight path (v. 26-27). Wisdom and good judgment should penetrate through every part of your body. Which area do I struggle with most? Where do I need to spend the most time in prayer?
Day 5 | Read Proverbs 5: Discover a detailed description of what is looks like to follow foolishness. Carelessness, pain, and loss are costly consequences. Consider the reverence and comfort that comes from the following verse and try to commit it to memory.
"For the LORD sees clearly what a man does, examining every path he takes." -Prov 5:21
Day 6 | Read Proverbs 6: Note the instruction and warning regarding God's joys and sorrows. Meditate on the seven things the Lord detests, involving every part of our bodies.
"There are six things the LORD hates - no seven things he detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family." -Prov 6:16-19
Adam was created to work and work is honored and rewarded. How obvious and relevant are the teachings of laziness, work, and how life reflects our efforts. Then to reflect on what God detests - a true measure of good character.
Day 7 | Read Proverbs 7: If we are not intentional we can be seduced by the most cruel of acts. The author watched a man fall. We see it happen around us, but witnessing events is not enough to prevent it from happening again. All men are evil. All of mankind is capable of committing such acts. Only God's transformation in someone can stop sin from being acted upon. Without God we will fall.
"Love wisdom like a sister; make insight a beloved member of your family." -Prov 7:4
Who knows me well enough to call me out when I'm living in a pattern of sin? Am I submitting myself to God's correction daily? Do I guard myself with the shield of faith, the belt of truth, the helmet of salvation? (Ephesians 6:10-18) Truly no one knows what they are capable of. No one plans to sin so egregiously. God have mercy and may wisdom be my sister.
Day 8 | Read Proverbs 8: Wisdom makes her case and testifies to her timelessness. God used wisdom from the beginning of creation, connecting her to all of creation and calling out to us again. Wisdom is available to all. Meditate on her word of warning:
"For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord. But those who miss me injure themselves. All who hate me love death." - Prov 8:35-36
Day 9 | Read Proverbs 9: The imagery of a banquet throughout chapter 9 uncovers wisdom's gift of hospitality. Dwell with her for if you scorn wisdom there will be suffering. What would it mean to spend time with wisdom? A good start is by reading God's Word daily.
"Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy one results in good judgment." -Prov 9:10
Day 10 | Read Proverbs 10: Memorize Proverbs 10:17 then review the stark comparisons of the pathway to life or the path for those who go astray.
"People who accept discipline are on the pathway to life, but those who ignore correction will go astray." -Prov 10:17
joy or grief, life-saving or no value, giving or withholding, rich or poor, harvest or disgrace, remembered or forgotten, instructed or left to fall, walk safely or crooked path, peace or trouble, life-giving or violent, heal or fight, listened to or beaten, knowledge or disaster, enhance or squander, sensible or sin, encourage or destroyed, wise pleasure or foolish wrong, hopes or fears, lasting foundation or whirled away, long or short life, happiness or nothing, stronghold or source of destruction, undisturbed or cut-off, helpful or perverse
Day 11 | Read Proverbs 11: Learn what true righteousness looks like to God. Several verses share the virtues the Lord desires in us and tells of the godly characteristics wisdom develops: humility, honesty, right-living, knowledge, upright, good, sensible, trustworthy, gracious, kindness, integrity, generosity, favor...
Pick one of the three verses below to commit to memory and apply to your life:
- "Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom." -Prov 11:2
- "The Lord detests people with crooked hearts, but he delights in those with integrity." -Prov 11:20
- "The seeds of good deeds become a tree of life; a wise person wins friends." -Prov 11:30
Day 12 | Read Proverbs 12: There is a steadiness promised when living a righteousness life. Living righteously (and wisely) means caution with our words and understanding the effects they have on everyone.
- Words are a trap for the wicked (v13)
- The wise use them sparingly and listen (v15)
- How we speak reveals our level of self-control (v16)
- We are given a choice to speak lies or truth (v17, 19)
- Our words have the power to cut down or heal (v18)
- What we say can cheer others up and encourage them (v25)
Day 13 | Read Proverbs 13: To seek wisdom implies wisdom is not naturally a part of us. Wisdom can be learned from those with whom we choose to associate (v14). We are encouraged to listen to correction (v1), control our tongue (v10), and take advice (v13). Success will come when we accept advice and correction (v14, 18) and think before we act (v16).
Who do you seek out for sound advice? We must remember the author's warning: "Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble." -Prov 13:20
Day 14 | Read Proverbs 14: Whether wise or unwise we affect those around us. Relational wisdom is at work in chapter 14 with mention of women and their homes, mankind with God, boss and employee, neighbors, families, and the nations. It is imperative we think through how we affect others. How can we spur one another on to pursue wisdom, understanding, and good judgment?
"Only simpletons believe everything they're told! The prudent carefully consider their steps." -Prov 14:15
Day 15 | Read Proverbs 15: God knows us (v11) and offers us a choice. In this chapter we read an outline of two contrasting lifestyles. The type of life we lead is our own choosing. God is kind enough to outline the positives of righteous living and the warnings for foolishness, but He allows people to choose. When have you chosen foolishness? What were the consequences? When have you been a man or women of integrity? How did you feel?
Day 16 | Read Proverbs 16: Be humbled before the Sovereign God. Truth is...
- We can plan, but He answers (v1)
- We seem pure, but He examines and knows for sure (v2)
- Our actions will not succeed unless He is our pursuit (v3)
- He is Creator of all things (v4)
- He determines our steps (v9)
- We throw the dice, but He makes them fall (v33)
And yet, comparisons are made because choices are still ours. How complex. How generous. How loving. How daunting.
Day 17 | Read Proverbs 17: Conflict, disgraceful, wrongdoers, punished, rebellion, evil, quarreling, detestable, senseless, poor judgment, disaster, crooked heart, trouble, wicked, pervert, foolish, bitterness, wrong...
Rejection to the life God invites us to is ugly. Disobedience has a heavy cost. The realities of sin and sin's consequences are great. The only good, living, loving God lays it out for us and wants more for His children.
"The discerning sets his face towards wisdom..." -Prov 17:24
What are you turning towards?
Day 18 | Read Proverbs 18: While heavy on careful speech Chapter 18 includes teaching on many topics. One can hear direction on laziness, God, pride, the company one keeps, and more. Choose one or two verses to focus on or memorize today and be sure you are counted as the intelligent.
"Intelligent people are always ready to learn. Their ears are open for knowledge." -Prov 18:15
Day 19 | Read Proverbs 19: It's amazing how Scripture written in the 10th century BC can speak to present-day culture. Proverbs 19 describes how fools act and what they pursue: riches, ill-directed passion, anger, bitterness, laziness, hot and short tempers, disloyal, mockery. Consider chapter 19 a US Weekly quiz for us. "If you answer "yes" to three or more of these verses then you're considered a fool!"
For those of us who can avoid such a lifestyle there is more in store for our future:
"Fear of the Lord leads to life, bringing security and protection from harm." -Prov 19:23
Day 20 | Read Proverbs 20: This chapter is full of basic teachings we can pass on to our children. Let's teach the coming generations to love and respect God's truths and not our own philosophies. God's standards are sufficient. It's not "because I said so", but because GOD says so.
- Don't party or drink (v. 1)
- Don't hit other kids (v. 3)
- You need to talk the talk AND walk the walk (v. 11) One's character is not made by what you say, but what you do.
- Sin looks and tastes good at first, but will inevitably lead to death (v. 17)
- Be a hard worker (v. 4, 13)
- Speak well of others and don't gossip (v. 19)
Day 21 | Read Proverbs 21: "People may be right in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their heart." (v. 2) "No human wisdom or understanding or plan can stand against the Lord." (v. 30) This is why we read, study and evaluate your own lives. This isn't just good reading, memorable one-liners, or what to say to others. We're dealing with life or death both spiritually and emotionally.
Take a moment to confess and repent where you've followed the world above the Lord's ways.
Day 22 | Read Proverbs 22: "Corrupt people walk a thorny, treacherous road; whoever values life will avoid it." -Prov 22:5
Where do we put our values? Wealth or a good reputation? Knowledge? Hard work? These are all addressed within this passage.
Do you share in God's heart for the poor, needy and marginalized? It's clear He is a lover of justice for all people and there is no distinction or classism for Him as there can be for us. I have seen this type of sin surface in myself at various times in life. Proverbs 22:2 brings the right perspective, "The rich and poor have this in common: The Lord made them both."
Day 23 | Read Proverbs 23: A father is writing to a son relaying mistakes he's done or seen to prevent pain of any kind. Do you see love or restricting rules? Here the nudging to mature: "Commit yourself to instruction; listen carefully to words of knowledge." -Prov 23:12
How has God used your mistakes to turn you toward maturity and a more satisfying life?
Day 24 | Read Proverbs 24: Pursue God's way of life and receive wisdom, knowledge and strength. You will trip, but you will get up. (v. 16) God helps. Those who follow the ways of the world and are careless with words and responsibilities will be brought down. Now to be kind without being influenced,
"My child, fear the LORD and the king. Don't associate with rebels, for disaster will hit them suddenly. Who knows what punishment will come from the LORD and the king?" -Prov 24:21-22
Day 25 | Read Proverbs 25: Three truths to meditate on to bring peace and clarity:
- God is sovereign and King of ALL kings (v. 2).
- Advice, either hard to hear or encouraging, should be valued, but there is a time and place (v. 11-12).
- Our words can bring total disaster and we are responsible. (v. 9-10, 11-13, 18, 20, 23, 25)
A challenge for me would be to meditate and marry the truths of verse 15 to my heart, "Patience can persuade a prince, and soft speech can break bones."
Day 26 | Read Proverbs 26: There are plenty of warnings and a description of a person worthy of disgust. Take note of what kind of person to avoid. Ask the Lord to show you where your foolishness lies and for the strength to purge it. And remember,
"As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness." -Prov 26:11
Day 27 | Read Proverbs 27: "As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend." -Prov 27:17 List the characteristics mentioned in the chapter of fools and friends.
Who is sharpening you? Do they bring anger, wrath, jealousy, or arrogance? Or do they bring their friendship like sweet perfume and incense? How do they handle praise? "A person is tested by being praised." -Prov 27:21
Day 28 | Read Proverbs 28: What we do reflects who we are. "God detests the prayers of a person who ignores the law." -Prov 28:9 Take a moment to read Jeremiah 7:1-15. We must remember to pursue God outside of a church building. What is our law? Not the OT laws, but boiled down we are to love God and love people. Does your love for God show in how you spend your money? What you talk about with friends? Do you love God through how you spend your time?
"People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy." -Prov 28:13
Can you relate to the Israelites? Do you act carelessly and worldly while trying to pray and find safety in church? Confess your sins and receive His mercy. (I John 1:9)
Day 29 | Read Proverbs 29: To whom or to what do you submit? What do you allow? Criticism? Advisors? Discipline? Anger? Pride? Humility? Honesty? God? Or peers? Reflect on who speaks into your life the most, then take a minute to commit to memory verse 25, "Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety."
Day 30 | Read Proverbs 30: Agur is a beautiful soul. Witness his self awareness in verses 7-9. Can you relate? What would you ask of the Lord? My soul resonates with every word and my humanity is fully exposed. I cherish his prayer in verses 1-9 and am reminded again,
"Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to him for protection." -Prov 30:5
Day 31 | Read Proverbs 31: While the characteristics of a noble woman is most commonly remembered from this chapter let's not miss King Lemuel's wisdom when heeding his mother's instructions. Don't drink so much you forget things. Act justly. Always remember a good woman is hard to find.
Out of all the descriptions of a noble women my most favorite is, "She laughs..." -Prov 31:25b
Only a secure woman who does not give way to fear can laugh in such a time. Who in your life has the ability to live so freely laughter is normal and a smile so genuine? A desirable and beautiful life indeed.
To bring closure to your time in Proverbs consider the following exercises:
- Meditate on your favorite Proverbs verse from the last month.
- Pen the truths from the book of Proverbs you would like to pass on to younger generations.
- Write your own prayer, like Agur's, in chapter 30.
- Share with the Lord four things you find sad, four awe-inspiring, four frustrating, four wise, and four that demonstrate strength.