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Question: I’ve never read the Bible before, but I want to begin. Can you give me some hints for reading the Bible so that I can understand it?

Pastor Bill responds (pt. 4): Reading the Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament.

The “Wisdom Literature” are, basically, the middle part of the Old Testament, i.e. the books that were written in about a 1000 year period before the birth of Jesus Christ.). That’s appropriate because even as they take up the heart of the Old Testament, they represent the heart of the life of a true believer in the true and living God. But, before that, they represent the heart of the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom the whole Old Testament leads, Lk 24:27, 44.

The books of the “Wisdom Literature” are Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. How do they show you the heart and life of Christ?

• Job was a greatly afflicted man who, following his ordeal, was blessed beyond measure.
Jesus is the ultimate Job: A “man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Is. 53:3), who was
humbled and glorified in fulfillment of what Job’s life was a type and pictures.
• The book of 150 Psalms displays every facet of individual and corporate life in relationship to
God, particularly suffering, glory, and the “ups and downs” (humanly speaking) of the
Kingdom of God.
• Proverbs is a goldmine of pictures and lessons about walking wisely, i.e. walking and making
decisions in the fear of God, which is the “beginning” or the principal part of all wisdom, cf.
Proverbs 9:10. What a window they give us on Jesus who is the very wisdom of God in flesh,
I Cor. 1:30; and who grew in “wisdom, stature, and favor with God and man” (Lk. 2:52)
• Ecclesiastes depicts “life under the sun”, which is full of blessings, but is only “vanity” if that’s
all a person lives for, cf. Eccles. 1:2, etc. (“Vanity” means a puff of air). In union with Jesus’
life by true faith, that curse is taken away. Your labors are NOT in vain in him, cf. I Cor. 15:58.
• Song of Solomon is a rich picture of the love of a husband and wife. But remember that all
marital love has its great original in Christ and the Church, Eph. 5:32. To learn about the love
of Christ for HIs church and the love of the Church for Christ, read the Song of Solomon!
Here are some practical suggestions for reading the Wisdom Literature:
• Try to read Job all in one sitting. (A great project for your Lord’s Day morning). Be struck with
how God’s self-description in chapters 38-41 is the answer to “the problem of evil.” That, and
also the cross of Jesus Christ!
• Pray through the Psalms. Memorize them. Sing them (as we do at The Haven). The Psalms
are the heartbeat of Christ’s life. Make them your heartbeat as well.
• Note that there are 31 chapters in Proverbs. Read the chapters according to the days of the
month. (On a 30 day month read chapters 30 and 31). Remember that Jesus is the only
perfect “Proverbs Person”.
• Read Ecclesiastes to get a “reality check” on the things of this world. Praise the Lord that that
all vanity is taken away in Christ’s perfect life and death.
• Get your picture of true passionate love in the Song of Solomon. Christ’s passionate love first.
Ours in passionate response.

The last section of the Old Testament (Isaiah - Malachi) is called “The Prophets”. Next week we’ll look at how to read and understand them.