What does it say?

By this time you should be getting a rhythm of reading this portion of Proverbs. Sometimes there are several verses of maxims that might follow the same general theme, but more often than not they are apparently unrelated.  

Read these chapters prayerfully and carefully, allowing God’s Holy Spirit to teach, rebuke, correct and instruct you as necessary (2Ti 3:16). Record any portions that are particularly applicable to your current situation.

What does it mean?

Proverbs 19:7 is a good example of how proverbs, or maxims, should not be pressed too hard in a literal sense. To say that all the brothers of a poor man hate him is classic oriental hyperbole, exaggeration aimed at emphasizing a point. And the point is that life for a poor person is extremely difficult and many times lonely. Even one’s own family and friends can become your enemies. This is a written way to “shout,” and not meant to be taken in a wooden, literal sense that all the brothers of every poor person through history hate that poor person. This is a maxim, not a literal promise.

Don’t be afraid if you struggle to understand the cultural context or the specific meaning of words. This is why Bible study is often hard work. Your job in reading through the Bible is not to study in depth, but to get a missional, chronological overview. So don’t overanalyze or work too hard!

If you get stuck and simply must understand something specifically, there are abundant tools available on the Internet for free. A great free software program is called e-Sword and recently added Mac version after years of being only PC (the Mac version has a small cost in the Apple Store). On the web are sites like Bible.org or Blue Letter Bible that offer wonderful helps for the average student. Go for it!

How will I respond?

What will be my key takeaway from this reading? What concrete steps will I take and with whom will I share it? You get the idea by now.