Sunday, May 17, 2009

DAY HIKING IN PROVERBS



If you’re someone who enjoys day hikes in the outdoors, you probably don’t like to carry a heavy pack. One good option to cut down on weight is to look for maximum nutrition in the smallest possible size. Fortunately, many such compact meals can be readily found. While I do enjoy God’s beautiful creation when I can, I am a regular day hiker -–indoors. The trail I take is called the Proverbs, and you can find it in the Bible. Proverbs was written by King Solomon, a man very experienced in the paths of life. As a matter of fact, he makes an excellent trail guide because he was renowned for his great wisdom. Ecclesiastes 12:9 states, “And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs.” All told, Solomon wrote three thousand proverbs, but not all of them were included in Scripture.

In the English Bible, Proverbs contains thirty-one chapters. This makes it a convenient day hike. My practice is to read one chapter a day throughout the month, making adjustments for months shorter than thirty-one days. Not only does this make for a great spiritual exercise, but you will discover something unique while you hike your way through the book: it provides optimal spiritual meals in bite-sized form to nourish your soul along the way. Many of the sayings found in Proverbs are both weighty and easy to remember. They engage our minds and invite reflection. This is a feature of the book that I have come to value highly. Who could soon forget such notable words as: “As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion” (Prov. 11:22), or As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed” (Prov.26:14). This is a book of great practical wisdom -- perhaps the greatest “how to” book ever written -- covering such topics as money, work, morality, friends, business, child training, discipline, wealth, poverty, and a lot more in a very readable format. While it is vast in scope, its main message is clear and easy enough to understand: “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom” (Prov.4:7). Pause for a moment and think about this admonition. How many personal tragedies could be prevented by the acquisition of biblical wisdom for the decisions of life and personal conduct? How many nature hikes could prepare you to live life skillfully, which is what the wisdom found in Proverbs does? Day hiking on this path is certainly a worthwhile use of your time. Pull up a chair, pray before starting out, and enjoy the adventure. You can ask someone to come along or go solo without fear of losing your way. Rather, you will find your way, for “the steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way” (Psalm 37:23). I have profited much from my day hikes in Proverbs and I know that you will also. We have God’s promise: “For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold” (Prov.3:14). Translation: If you seek for wisdom as you would for hidden treasures, you will discover it in Solomon’s gold mine –- the book of Proverbs.

So my dear friends, enjoy your hikes in Proverbs and gather all the silver and gold that you can! Perhaps we will meet along the way and discuss what we saw, heard, and learned.


Pastor Tom