Discovering the Character of God through Proverbs
32.1 Pose the group the question of what they think it means to be 'wise'. Let it generate discussion as we share our answers.
32.2 Recap some of what we learned about Solomon from Series 1. Read 1 Kings 3:4-15 to help the group remember how Solomon had gone 'all out' for God in seeking the right kind of wisdom for ruling the kingdom. Follow this up by reading 1 Kings 4:29-34 and hone in on verse 32.
Talk about "wise sayings" referred to in this passage and perhaps share some we're familiar with; who says them? what do they mean? do we live by them?
32.3 Discuss the differences and similarities between these and the types of proverbs/sayings that Solomon might have written. Introduce Proverbs, explaining the authorship and purpose.
Read Proverbs 1:1-7 and highlight how this underlines the purpose of this book straight away. It's all about the right kind of wisdom. Read Proverbs 2:1-11 and see how, again, Solomon is setting the scene for what he is going to say with his proverbs: seek wisdom.
32.4 Return to this idea of the right kind of wisdom - what is the 'right/wrong' kind (check out James 3:13-18).
Why is all of this so important? It teaches us about God's character. Read Prov 3:5-6 (NIV). Here, it made really plain: God wants us to rely on Him (compare Jesus to His disciples in JOhn 15:5).
32.5 So, is that it, then? Is it all about wisdom? No. Think of it like a teacher handing out a textbook: the students won't learn just by reading the introduction; they need to get to grips with the actual text/facts that the introduction simply introduces. Let's apply this theory by looking at the first chapter of 'sayings'.
Split into small groups and assign each several verses to pore over. As they read, see if they can see the lesson in the proverb and what this might teach them about God (eg: v4 - God wants us to do well, etc). If time allows, change groups and look at a different chapter and feed back to the wider group. See how much we can learn of God!
Finally, invite each person to choose a proverb to action in their lives this week.
Proverbs is another rich book and viewing it through this 'establishing shot' is a great way to introduce characteristics of God that you may not see directly elsewhere. The best way of studying, 'though, having seen this broader view is to then view it in detail. Zoom in on chapters and verses and before long you'll be finding characteristics of God, one after another...
He wants us to trust in, and rely on Him
If we only count on our own wisdom, everything will soon fall apart
He guides and directs us
Finally, the proverbs aren't just for reading or even memorising. They're for living!