The proverbs of Solomon son of David, King of Israel:
For learning about wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight,
for gaining instruction in wise dealing, righteousness, justice, and equity;
to teach shrewdness to the simple, knowledge and prudence to the young –
let the wise also hear and gain in learning, and the discerning acquire skill,
to understand a proverb and a figure, the words of the wise and their riddles.
Proverbs 1:1-6 NRSV
Grocery bags are cut to cover the new chemistry book. A pencil is sharpened. A turkey wrap joins some grapes and pretzels to fill up the gecko covered insulated lunch box. Such are the simple, ordinary things that mark the beginning of a new school year. Studying and acquiring knowledge happen in the larger context of a gracious life, and this context contains so much that isn’t often noticed or appreciated (until or unless something goes awry!).
The book of Proverbs is advice on this larger context, a pithy poetic essay on how to live a good life. Much of it is practical – be honest in your negotiations, find good friends, keep your word. Some of it is “advice to a child,” and some just general advice to no one in particular. The questions it answers: what does a life well lived look like? What is a wasted life? Will you choose the path of the wise or will you stray into foolishness?
It’s been some time since I reflected on the wisdom of Proverbs. With the yellow school buses soon on their way, it seems like a good to crack it open…I hope you join me.