King Solomon’s Mines - Part 3
I have a problem. The things I used to want tomorrow, I now want today. And the things I used to need right away, I now need yesterday.
Do you have the same problem? Do you expect results instantly and effortlessly and if you don’t you get frustrated? Have you ever gone on a diet that promises results within seven days or flipped the pages to the end of a mystery book to discover “who dunnit”? In this hurry-up lifestyle of instant coffee and the five minute Quiet Time I think we are all guilty.
Thankfully I am cultivating a better way. I am learning to appreciate the value of slowing down and stopping to smell the roses. But for too many years I was very much unlike King Solomon who wrote:
I took a long look and pondered what I saw; the fields preached me a sermon and I listened1
King Solomon, the man of wisdom, left in his legacy hundreds of proverbs which, when applied, give us the insight and the skills to cope with life. Solomon had walked past a farm and instead of ploughed fields and fruit on the vine, all he saw was a broken down stone wall and thorns and weeds everywhere. He could have hurriedly walked on to get more important things done, but he didn’t.
He paused. He pondered. He listened. He learnt a lesson.
This is a lesson for us too. In just a few words we not only have a wise approach to living but also a key to life transforming Bible study. In our previous issue of Face to Face I encouraged you to read one chapter from the Book of Proverbs a day. Has this become a habit in your life? Or have you been too busy, promising yourself to begin as soon as you find the time? Perhaps you did read a chapter a day but rushed through so you could get “more important” things done.
I have made that same mistake. And because of that I have missed so many of the “wonderful things” in God’s teachings (Psalm 119:18).
God’s words are like seeds and when we allow these seeds to penetrate and live within us the results are life changing. How can you prepare your heart to be fertile soil to receive these powerful words?
Slow down. Reflect. Question.
Take your time to really look at what the scriptures are saying. Pondering creates spaces for the words, it gives them a place in our hearts (Proverbs 2:1) so they have room to germinate and blossom.
The great Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon wrote; “Let us ... try to get saturated with the gospel. I always find that I can preach best when I can manage to lie asoak in my text. I like to get a text, and find out its meaning and bearings, and so on, and then, after I have bathed in it, I delight to lie down in it, and let it soak into me.”1 Similarly, teacher, writer, pastor and mission-leader, John Stott urges us to “Read the text, reread it, and read it again. Turn it over and over in your mind.... Probe your text, like a bee with a spring blossom, or like a humming bird probing a hibiscus flower for its nectar. Worry it like a dog with a bone. Suck it as a child sucks an orange. Chew it as a cow chews the cud.” 2
The Book of Proverbs is a rich treasure house of short sentences drawn from long experiences
“But I don’t have time!” we argue. But making the time and effort will result in priceless discoveries. Proverbs 2:1-4 teaches us that attaining wisdom requires contemplation and discipline and verse 5 reveals the end result: if we earnestly seek God’s truths as though we were searching for lost money or hidden treasure we will come to a genuine personal knowledge of God – the true treasure.
Proverbs are rich in life lessons but often the real treasure is buried deep beneath their surface. Just because they are short and simple and easily grasped on the surface doesn’t mean we put an end to thought and application. Mine them! Dive deep! For example, Proverbs 12:10 teaches us that “The godly are concerned for the welfare of their animals, but even the kindness of the wicked is cruel.” On the surface we could correctly see this as an instruction to pay attention to the needs of our animals but who would have thought that how we treat our pets would unmask the truth about our character? In future articles we will look at more examples.
Specifically how do we ponder the proverbs?
As you read through the Book of Proverbs, certain ones will stand out to you; take the time to allow them to sink into your heart and prayerfully reflect about how they apply to your life.
Proverbs is rich in metaphors and similes (Proverbs 4:18). See each one as an invitation to stop and ponder. By stating the truth in striking and memorable forms, a proverb forces us to take notice, examine its meaning and carry it with us into life.
Ask if perhaps God wants to speak to you through a particular proverb. The question that always lies behind such reading is, “God, what do you want to say to me in this proverb?”
As you ponder the practical wisdom of the ancient proverbs, you will not only discover Solomon’s laws for living, you will find the silver and buried treasure he talked about; treasure that will last your lifetime – and beyond. You will gain one hundred times the insight you would have attained by quickly reading thirty pages of Proverbs. Less is more! It will be as though, in surveying the starry wonders of the scriptures, you have a telescope instead of binoculars. I am not saying this is easy. Old habits die hard! Pray for the desire and the grace to do this. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand.
The old saying says “take time to smell the roses”. That’s great advice, but God doesn’t just give you roses, he sends you a whole bunch of assorted flowers - every day.
Make time to smell them.
1. Proverb 24:32: The Message Bible
2. Between Two Worlds: John Stott p220
3. Ibid p220