With the recent passing of Rev. Billy Graham, we have celebrated his faithfulness over seven decades of ministry. How did he do that? Billy would be quick to tell you that his daily practice was to read five Psalms and one chapter from Proverbs (the chapter that matched the day of the month that day). Every month, he would have read all of 150 Psalms and all of 31 Proverbs… and he did it for 75+ years. Is it any wonder that he was such a wise man?
Many believe that the book of Job was the first book of the Bible written. It deals with and answers the most difficult questions of life. If there was ever a book written for the complex issues of today, the book of Ecclesiastes is it. But there is a problem with the wisdom literature: most of it is poetry.
In this age of efficiency and instant everything, we struggle as a culture to read and to reflect on what we just read. That is one of the purposes of this blog. Even those of us who might have short attention spans still need to learn to read and reflect. Leaders are readers! Poetry slows us down… and it makes us think in order to understand the author’s intent. And sometimes it is a great struggle to make sense of a section of poetry. (Doesn’t all of life require the Holy Spirit’s enablement to be wise?)
The poetic nature of the wisdom books, that is, how one said something, was just as important to the Hebrew readers as the content of what one said. Our western culture struggles with that, preferring a more colloquial and direct form of communication.
Admittedly, helping international students with the wisdom books of the Bible is not easy. But learning the wisdom of God’s Word is very important for us and for the students we serve. Beginning with bite-sized pieces of wisdom scriptures would be helpful. Learning how to study the Bible with the Spirit’s enablement is a foundational skill for students to learn.
Have you tried using sections of the wisdom books with students? “For the word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are.” – Heb. 4:12 NLT
Principles cited in this blog: Awareness of the wisdom literature of the Scriptures can make us wise; it is important to study even if it requires more work on our parts and the Spirit’s help to understand it.
Application for ISI ministry: We must help international students learn how to find wisdom in God’s Word… and a great place to start is the Psalms and Proverbs.
Next blog topic: Issues Chinese Students Face
Doug Shaw with Derrah Jackson