If my life were a Hallmark Channel movie, picture a shot of me driving my red Ford Explorer and noticing a personalized license tag on the car directly in front of me as I muddle through afternoon traffic (heavy rush-hour/Christmas-shopping traffic, of course). The tag reads PRV16 9. My brow furrows for a short moment, and then I get it: Proverbs 16:9.
Jump ahead in the movie script to the following morning. I sit in a small, deserted classroom before starting my work day in the church office. With knitting, coffee, and my tablet on the table in front of me, I glance up and notice the blackboard you see pictured at the start of this article. Cue sweet violin music. On the board in white letters appear these words: “Wise Up and Live Wisely: the Book of Proverbs.” (And PLEASE tell me you noticed the angel statue in the foreground.)
Quick flashback to an image of that license plate… And then I turn my head to the left and I see these words on a dry-erase board in the same classroom: “Proverbs: What God Said about Friendship through Solomon.”
Next, my voice is heard “thinking” (because my lips aren’t moving): “Okay… something is obviously telling me to read Proverbs.”
Now, I deftly swipe and touch the screen of my iPad until Bible Gateway is up. The voice of Dale McConachie reads Proverbs 16:9: “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps.”
In my Hallmark Channel movie, this moment is pivotal. The right answer is suddenly plain. Instead of concerning a soulmate misunderstanding that is blissfully resolved, my happy ending probably has to do with my budding career as a novelist. And snow is falling as I bodily turn in circles of delight in my front yard, face upturned, arms outstretched. Christmas lights are glowing in the windows and, somewhere in the house, steam is rising from mugs of hot chocolate.
In my actual life, all but the previous paragraph happened as written. (Well, minus the violin music.) I listened to all of Proverbs 16, being reminded of gems like verse 18 – pride pretty much guarantees you’ll stumble sooner or later. That’s my off-the-cuff paraphrase.
For all who haven’t read much Bible on their own initiative lately (and I admit that includes me), Proverbs is a great place to start. The verses are short. Their meanings seem pretty clear, and their advice is so terribly practical.
“Advice,” of course, is not a strong enough word for the Word of God. Get wisdom. Get instruction. Nod your head in agreement as you read that it’s better to share a can of pork ‘n’ beans with folks who really love one another than to dine on filet mignon in an atmosphere of bickering or where walls built of selfishness protect private agendas, hindering truly-satisfying relationships.
That is my imaginative rendering of Proverbs 17:1, and just one example of the smart stuff in Proverbs.