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Jesus in Proverbs Bible Study

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I finally finished it! In my last two posts I promised a Bible Study that shows the connections between Jesus’ teachings and the wisdom of Proverbs. As a Hebrew boy, Jesus would have been required to study and memorize portions of the Old Testament, and specifically, Proverbs.

This influenced his own teaching in the same way that the wisdom of Solomon’s book can make a great difference in our lives if we internalize it as Jesus did. Join me for eight days while I direct you towards the many verses from Proverbs that echo the principles for living which Jesus laid out in Matthew 5, The Beatitudes.

Honestly allowing these guidelines to shape our lives will empower us to see more successes in living righteously in a fallen world and leading lost people to the feet of Jesus. If that’s your heart’s cry, I think you’ll enjoy this study.

The Bible Study is a free download on my website under “Wisdom Challenge Resources,” under the month of August. Here’s the intro and Day One to give you a sampling.

Jesus In Proverbs

How The Beatitudes are rooted in the book of wisdom

by Sharon Stults

Introduction

During my research for this study, the first major teaching of Christ which I came across was the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, in Matthew 5. Originally, I thought this passage might be a part of the overall study. The more I read these verses, I realized how connected they were to many principles established in Proverbs. They became the study.

The major theme of the sermon on the mount is the establishment of the standards of Jesus’ kingdom, very different than the kind of kingdom his listeners expected him to usher in. I love what the commentator, David Gudzik says in his introductory comments on this passage.

“It has been said if you took all the good advice for how to live ever uttered by any philosopher or psychiatrist or counselor, took out the foolishness and boiled it all down to the real essentials, you would be left with a poor imitation of this great message by Jesus. It can’t be proved, but in my opinion, the Sermon on the Mount was Jesus’ “standard” sermon. It was the core of His itinerant message: a simple proclamation of how God expects us to live, contrasting with common Jewish misunderstandings of that life. It may be that when Jesus preached to a new audience, He often preached this sermon or used the themes from it.”

I hope you enjoy this study as much as I did, digging out the deeper meanings of Jesus’ sermon and the proverbs that may have inspired him. If we want to be more like Jesus, we’d be smart to study and memorize the same books he did. Wisdom flowed out of Jesus not simply because he was God in flesh, Wisdom incarnate, but also because the human part of him diligently studied the book of Proverbs. Solomon’s proverbs flow from the teachings of his parents, his own experiences, and his knowledge of the five books of Moses. His warnings and instructions are Spirit-inspired but also very much influenced by his own life with its successes and failures.

Proverbs are not promises. Many people attempt to use them that way but that is not what God designed them to be. They are God’s principles for holy living. People who follow them will not be problem free, but they will possess, wisdom, understanding, knowledge and insight to righteously navigate whatever life may bring. They will also know how to avoid behaviors and attitudes that will lead them into trouble. This is what separates wise people from fools.

 A desperate, dying world needs a few less fools and a lot more wisdom bearers. My goal is to be in that second group, not the first. How about you?

*** All scripture references are taken from the English Standard Version Bible, unless otherwise noted.

Day One- The Poor in Spirit

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” Matthew 5:3 ESV.

The Greek word here for “blessed,” is translated as happy but refers to a state of contentment that is disconnected from circumstances and events.  The Greek for “poor” is the word used in ancient Greek society for the poorest of the poor. Jesus is speaking about those who are happy because they understand that on their own, they bring nothing of value to God’s table, without Christ. Without the redeeming work of the cross, left to our own devices, we are bent towards sin. Here’s what Charles Spurgeon, preacher and commentator says about this phrase, “poor in spirit.”

“This beatitude is first because this is where we start with God. “A ladder, if it is to be of any use, must have its first step near the ground, or feeble climbers will never be able to mount. It would have been a grievous discouragement to struggling faith if the first blessing had been given to the pure in heart; to that excellence the young beginner makes no claim, while to poverty of spirit he can reach without going beyond his line. Everyone can start here; it isn’t first blessed are the pure or the holy or the spiritual or the wonderful. Everyone can be poor in spirit. “Not what I have, but what I have not, is the first point of contact, between my soul and God.” (Spurgeon)

Imagine you are explaining this concept of poor in spirit to an unbeliever or brand-new believer. (You may very well be called upon soon to do so.) In your own words, explain why you think Jesus put this as the first point of his sermon and what it means today to be a person who is poor in spirit. This phrase is rankling to a culture that is “me first” oriented and regularly uses phrases like “self- care,” “me-time,” and such. To our 21st century ears, that phrase can sound like we are supposed to be down on ourselves. We know that’s not what Jesus was saying. He places tremendous value on humans, to the point of giving his life for them. Write out your paraphrase (text rewritten in your own words) and your explanation of what Jesus did mean.

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Read Proverbs 29:23. According to this verse, what attitude would be the opposite of being poor in spirit?  _____________________________________________________________________

What honor does Jesus indicate will be given to the lowly in spirit? Explain in words an unbeliever can understand why this such an honor.

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Read Proverbs 16:18-19. What kind of “fall” do you think Solomon was referring to?

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What firsthand experience do you think Solomon might have had where pride led him away from the honor God gave him and into disgrace? (You might need to do a little research if you’re not familiar with the details of his reign and his family life.)

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Read Proverbs 16:5 and Proverbs 8:13. By lifting the poor in spirit as a kingdom standard, Jesus implies that honor does not come to the proud, but a fall instead. What eternal fall is Jesus trying to lead people away from by teaching the concept of a lowly spirit? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Read Philippians 2:5-8. What does this passage say about how Jesus demonstrated a lowly spirit (humility) while on earth? Can you think of any other passages that help us to see his humility in other ways besides his death?

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Prayer

Lord, show me what a lowly spirit looks like for me. Reveal any place in my life where I am ensnared by pride. Help me to understand the difference between being humble and false humility.

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