"The revelation of Your words sheds light, giving understanding to the simple." Psalms 119:130
God's word is intended for all people. For thousands of years God has communicated to millions of simple people through His word. In fact, many things are hidden from the learned and clever but revealed to the merest children (Lk 10:21). Of course, God's word is sometimes so difficult to interpret that we need the Church to teach us. Therefore, highly academic Bible study has its place, but it is not the principal approach to God's word. The word is not primarily for an educated elite but for everyday people praying and reading by the power of the Spirit.
Nevertheless, not many books about the Bible are written to help the average person. What most people need is something short, simple, and practical that encourages, motivates and guides. We need something that will help us read the Biblical texts and not just about the text. This is the purpose of this simple Bible reading guide. "We have aimed to please those who prefer simple reading, as well as to make it easy for the studious who wish to commit things to memory, and to be helpful to all (2 Mc 2:25).
Note: The breakdown of the Bible into chapters (although not always adequate) has served God's people for centuries. So in general we will use a chapter-by-chapter structure for our comments.
Be sure to read each chapter of the Bible along with the introductory comments.
P.S. We have prayed before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament about our choice
of the verses in this reading guide. We hope the Scriptures will have a
prophetic, life-changing power for you.
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge." Proverbs 1:7
This nine-chapter introduction to the book of Proverbs strongly emphasizes that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. With our eyes fixed on the Lord we can discern the truth in secular wisdom to appreciate the good in it and reject the bad.
Prayer: Father, give me "wisdom from above" (Jas 3:17). May I look like a fool to the worldly wise (see 1 Cor 3:18).
Promise: "How long, you simple ones, will you love inanity, how long will you turn away at my reproof? Lo! I will pour out to you my spirit, I will acquaint you with my words." 1:22-23
"If you seek her like silver, and like hidden treasures search her out: Then will you understand the fear of the Lord; the knowledge of God you will find." Proverbs 2:4-5
We either become wise or worldly and lustful. We must have wisdom. Jesus is our Wisdom (see 1 Cor 1:30). We must live for Jesus.
Prayer: Father, I ask without doubting (see Jas 1:5-6) that You "give me wisdom, the attendant at your throne" (Wis 9:4).
Promise: "For the upright will dwell in the land, the honest will remain in it" 2:21
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence rely not." Proverbs 3:5
Our intelligence is God's gift to us but it is always to be submitted to God the Giver. We are also to be submissive to divine revelation and to one another out of fear of Christ (see Eph 5:21).
Prayer: Jesus, by Your submission even to the cross, You saved the world. May I imitate You.
Promise: "Be not wise in your own eyes, fear the Lord and turn away from evil; This will mean health for your flesh and vigor for your bones." 3:7-8
"The beginning of wisdom is: get wisdom; at the cost of all you have, get understanding." Proverbs 4:7
There are two roads the way of wisdom and the path of the wicked. Jesus said: "Enter through the narrow gate. The gate that leads to damnation is wide, the road is clear, and many choose to travel it. But how narrow is the gate that leads to life, how rough the road, and how few there are who find it!" (Mt 7:13-14)
Prayer: Father, I choose the rough road.
Promise: "With closest custody, guard your heart, for in it are the sources of life." 4:23
"Why then, my son, should you go astray for another's wife and accept the embrace of an adulteress?" Proverbs 5:20
Proverbs gives special attention to sexual sin, especially adultery. In spiritual warfare, overcoming sexual temptations is of great importance because these temptations are crucial in the devil's battle strategy.
Prayer: Father, may I be pure as Jesus is pure (1 Jn 3:3).
Promise: "For each man's ways are plain to the Lord's sight; all their paths he surveys." 5:21
"Lust not in your heart after her beauty, let her not captivate you with her glance!" Proverbs 6:25
The writer mentions other temptations, such as becoming "surety to your neighbor" (6:1), laziness, crooked talk, "haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood; A heart that plots wicked schemes, feet that run swiftly to evil, the false witness who utters lies, and he who sows discord among brothers" (6:17-19). Then the writer spends almost two chapters about not committing sexual sin, especially adultery.
Prayer: Father, may I vigorously resist the temptation to look lustfully at another, especially on TV (see Mt 5:28).
Promise: "Keep my commands and live, my teaching as the apple of your eye." 7:2
"The Lord begot me, the firstborn of his ways, the forerunner of his prodigies of long ago; from of old I was poured forth, at the first, before the earth." Proverbs 8:22-23
This is an amazing passage where wisdom is not so much a quality as a person. These are intimations of the Trinity.
Prayer: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I adore You.
Promise: "Then was I beside him as his craftsman, and I was his delight day by day, playing before him all the while, playing on the surface of his earth; and I found delight in the sons of men." 8:30-31
"The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." Proverbs 9:10
This extensive introduction to the book ends with a double invitation to two banquets Wisdom's banquet or Folly's feast.
Which invitation have you accepted? How have you spent your time today? What have you been reading? What about your conversations? How much TV do you watch? Do you read the Bible daily? Which invitation have you accepted?
Prayer: Father, may I grow in wisdom each time I receive Communion.
Promise: "Come, eat of my food, and drink of the wine I have mixed! Forsake foolishness that you may live; advance in the way of understanding." 9:5-6
"A wise son makes his father glad, but a foolish son is a grief to his mother." Proverbs 10:1
Proverbs should be taken one or two a day. Ask God to point out one in this chapter. Read it, pray it, repeat it, memorize it, and live it.
Prayer: Father, send the Spirit to convict, heal, free, and empower me.
Promise: "Where words are many sin is not wanting; but he who restrains his lips does well." 10:19
"Through the blessing of the righteous the city is exalted, but through the mouth of the wicked it is overthrown." Proverbs 11:11
Chew on the this proverb or other ones for a few days. New meanings will emerge as various experiences throw light on the proverb and vice versa.
Prayer: Father, may my mind not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the Holy Spirit (see Rm 12:2).
Promise: "Like a golden ring in a swine's snout is a beautiful woman with a rebellious disposition." 11:22
"He who loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid. "Proverbs 12:1
We can receive a proverb on different levels. We can take it superficially or let it penetrate and divide soul from spirit (see Heb 4:12).
Prayer: Father, say anything to me that You want, no matter what.
Promise: "From the fruit of his words a man has his fill of good things, and the work of his hands comes back to reward him." 12:14
"From the fruit of his words a man eats good things." Proverbs 13:2
The use of the tongue is the most prevalent subject of Proverbs. "If a person is without fault in speech he is a man in the fullest sense, because he can control his entire body" (Jas 3:2).
Prayer: Jesus, be Lord of my mouth, words, silence, and conversations.
Promise: "He who despises the word must pay for it, but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded." 13:13
"He who walks uprightly fears the Lord, but he who is devious in his ways spurns Him." Proverbs 14:2
Why spend day after day reading and praying the Proverbs? Why spend more time in seeking wisdom than in getting a good education? Because we desperately need wisdom from on high. Without divine wisdom, we will do our very best but still fail. "Sometimes a way seems right to a man, but the end of it leads to death!" (14:12)
Prayer: Father, stop me form committing honest mistakes.
Promise: "In the fear of the Lord is a strong defense; even for one's children he will be a refuge." 14:26
"The fear of the Lord is training for wisdom, and humility goes before honors." Proverbs 15:33
The fear of the Lord is the context in which we can understand things rightly. Pray for a deeper fear of the Lord, a profound awareness of God's presence. Then consider something that's been on your mind for a while. You will see it in a different light. Or read a proverb that didn't mean much to you before. With a deeper awareness of God's presence, you will begin to see the light and receive insights into the meaning of that proverb.
Prayer: Father, may I make steady progress in the fear of You (Acts 9:31).
Promise: "Better a little with fear of the Lord than a great fortune with anxiety." 15:16
"When the Lord is pleased with a man's ways, he makes even his enemies be at peace with him." Proverbs 16:7
The above proverb and many others are true only in a certain context. In the light of the New Testament, we know that Jesus' enemies crucified Him and were not at peace with Him. Likewise, we, the followers of Jesus, should expect persecution and possibly even martyrdom (2 Tm 3:12). Although, the Proverbs are true, they're not the whole truth. We need the New Testament to fulfill the Old.
Prayer: Father, send the Spirit to teach me the Bible (Jn 14:26).
Promise: "Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by virtuous living." 16:31
"The crucible for silver, and the furnace for gold, but the tester of hearts is the Lord." Proverbs 17:3
Solomon uttered 3,000 proverbs (1 Kgs 5:12) and there are thousands of proverbs composed by other people. How can we even remember all these and how can we ever apply them to our lives? Only by the power of the Spirit.
Prayer: Father, stir up the Spirit in me (2 Tm 1:6). Renew my Confirmation.
Promise: "A joyful heart is the health of the body, but a depressed spirit dries up the bones." 17:22
"The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the just man runs to it and is safe. " Proverbs 18:10
Would it be good to re-organize the Proverbs and put them into categories; like relationships, the use of the tongue, money, etc.? Why didn't God think of that? There is a method to God's madness.
Prayer: Father, show me why You do some of the things You do.
Promise: "A man's spirit sustains him in infirmity but a broken spirit who can bear?" 18:14
"He who keeps the precept keeps his life, but the despiser of the word will die." Proverbs 19:16
Try to write a few proverbs yourself. Compare them with the proverbs of the Bible. Did you write about the same subjects? Did your proverbs sound like those in the Bible?
Prayer: Father, may I have the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16).
Promise: "He who has compassion on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his good deed." 19:17
"The intention in the human heart is like water far below the surface, but the man of intelligence draws it forth." Proverbs 20:5
The proverb is not the whole message. Rather, it is a catalyst that begins something deep in our hearts which culminates in greater revelations from God.
Prayer: Father, complete the sentences that You have started to speak in my life.
Promise: "A lamp from the Lord is the breath of man; it searches through all his inmost being." 20:27
"All the ways of a man may be right in his own eyes, but it is the Lord who proves hearts." Proverbs 21:2, 16:2
Some of the Proverbs are repeated. But there's a new message because the Biblical and personal contexts are different. That's why the Proverbs mean more to us as we grow older.
Prayer: Father, may I recognize the many facets of the Proverbs.
Promise: "He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will himself also call and not be heard." 21:13
"That your trust may be in the Lord, I make known to you the words of Amen-em-Ope." Proverbs 22:19
This chapter ends almost thirteen chapters of Solomon's proverbs and begins the sayings of the wise. Then comes five more chapters of Solomon's proverbs. The book concludes with two chapters of other proverbs and Wisdom literature.
The order of the book is two collections of Solomon's proverbs preceded, separated, and concluded by other proverbs. The reason for this order is that much of the material attributed to someone other than Solomon has a greater emphasis on the Lord. This gives us a better context in which to understand Solomon's proverbs.
Prayer: Father, may Your presence overshadow every detail of my life.
Promise: "For the Lord will defend their cause, and will plunder the lives of those who plunder them." 22:23
"Let not your heart emulate sinners, but be zealous for the fear of the Lord always; For you will surely have a future, and your hope will not be cut off."Proverbs 23:17-18
Stay away from greed, over-eating, illicit sex, and drinking alcohol. "My point is that you should live in accord with the spirit and you will not yield to the cravings of the flesh. The flesh lusts against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh; the two are directly opposed" (Gal. 5:16-17).
Prayer: Father, by the Spirit, may I put to death the desires of the flesh (Rm 8:13).
Promise: "Put a knife to your throat if you have a ravenous appetite." 23:2
"My son, fear the Lord. "Proverbs 24:21
The Proverbs treat almost every aspect of life. This indicates that faith in the Lord is not merely a doctrine but a whole new way of life.
Prayer: Father, make me holy in every aspect of my conduct (1 Pt 1:15).
Promise: "If you remain indifferent in time of adversity, your strength will depart from you. Rescue those who are being dragged to death, and from those tottering to execution withdraw not." 24:10-11
"Like a moth in clothing, or a maggot in wood, sorrow gnaws at the human heart." Proverbs 25:20
The Proverbs were part of the renewal promoted by Hezekiah (25:1). Today they will also be part of an authentic renewal. When people are interested in the Proverbs, they're interested in the practical Christian life, which is what renewal is all about.
Prayer: Jesus, may I want Your Church renewed as much as You do.
Promise: "Like an open city with no defenses is the man with no check on his feelings." 25:28
"A proverb in the mouth of a fool hangs limp, like crippled legs." Proverbs 26:7
The Book of Proverbs makes us wise, but wisdom also makes us appreciate the Proverbs. It goes both ways.
Prayer: Jesus, I would be a damned fool except for You. Thank You for saving me.
Promise: "Answer not the fool according to his folly, lest you too become like him. Answer the fool according to his folly, lest he become wise in his own eyes." 26:4-5
"As iron sharpens iron, so man sharpens his fellow man." Proverbs 27:17
Many proverbs refer to problems in personal relationships. The essence of life is loving each other in our everyday relationships. They'll know we are Christians by our love (Jn 13:35).
Prayer: Father, give me Your unconditional love for the people I see every day.
Promise: "Better is an open rebuke than a love that remains hidden." 27:5
"When one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination." Proverbs 28:9
The Book of Proverbs continually tries to force us to face reality. We like to think that there may be no consequences to our actions, especially no wages to our sins (Rm 6:23). We hope that problems will disappear, and things will work out without our having to make decisions. Proverbs interrupts our attempted escapes and sends us back into reality.
Prayer: Father, I can face any reality because of the realities of Your presence and Jesus' saving death and resurrection.
Promise: "He who conceals his sins prospers not, but he who confesses and forsakes them obtains mercy." 28:13
"The man who remains stiff-necked and hates rebuke will be crushed suddenly beyond cure." Proverbs 29:1
This is the last chapter of Solomon's proverbs. The emphasis is on accepting correction or taking the consequences. We should want to be corrected before we must be punished. Our prayer should be: "Let the just man strike me; that is kindness; let him reprove me; it is oil for the head" (Ps 141:5).
Prayer: Father, send people into my life to correct me.
Promise: "The evildoer is an abomination to the just, and he who walks uprightly is an abomination to the wicked." 29:27
"The pronouncement of mortal man: 'I am not God; I am not God, that I should prevail.' " Proverbs 30:1
This book concludes with the words of Agur, an unknown wise man. He stresses God's glory and man's weakness. The world was not made to center on us but on God. The Lord says: "This is the one whom I approve: the lowly and afflicted man who trembles at My word" (Is 66:2).
Prayer: Father, may I appreciate the privilege of being created, redeemed, and adopted by You.
Promise: "Every word of God is tested; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him." 30:5
"What, my son, my first-born! what, O son of my womb; what, O son of my vows!" Proverbs 31:2
Proverbs ends by pulling out all the stops in giving the advice of King Lemuel's mother and the picture of the perfect wife. If you won't listen to your mother, who will you listen to? And if you won't listen to your wife, you're really in trouble.
Prayer: Father, thank You for choosing the woman Mary to bring Your Son into the world.
Promise: "When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls." 31:10
When you finish reading this booklet, give it to someone else. Pray for that person to be motivated to read God's word and make a total commitment to the Lord. Use this book as a tool for evangelization. Right now pray to know the person with whom you are to share this book.
Nihil obstat: Reverend Ralph J. Lawrence, November 17, 1997
Imprimatur: Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, November 19, 1997
The Nihil obstat and Imprimatur are a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free from doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted the Nihil obstat and Imprimatur agree with the contents, opinions, or statements expressed.
Published by: Presentation Ministries, 3230 McHenry Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45211, (513) 662-5378, www.presentationministries.com