I’ve been reading through the biblical book of Proverbs recently. It’s the kind of book that one can (and should) read over and over again because of the wisdom it contains. In fact, it’s one of the few biblical books included in the genre called wisdom literature.
Parts of the book are written in a style where multiple verses go together to form a thought. The bulk of the book, however, consists of shorter sayings usually captured in one or two verses, although they are grouped logically so as not to be a purely random series of unrelated sayings.
As I read this book for perhaps the 25th time in my life, I am struck by the need to do so slowly. The content does not consist of long stories where reading large quantities is necessary to understand the context, therefore one can easily fly by great wisdom too quickly if not careful.
For example, look at just a small sample of verses on the subject of wisdom and knowledge (from the English Standard Version):
1:7 – “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction”;
2:6 – “For the Lord gives wisdom; and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding”;
3:13-14 – “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold”;
4:13 – “Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life”;
8:10-11 – “Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.”
There are many subjects addressed in Proverbs beyond wisdom, but it is one of the major topics scattered throughout its 31 chapters.
When wisdom is captured in short, pithy sayings, it doesn’t work to drink them through a fire hose quickly. You need time to reflect, think, ponder, learn and apply. You need to revisit them time and again as your life experiences and readiness equip you to understand them.
Whether you find wisdom in what you read or in conversation with others, leap year lesson #364 is Sip wisdom slowly.