As I continue walking you through a lab in preaching Proverbs, using chapter 6 as an example, I'm assuming you've worked through the basics as to the specific challenge and resource that is the book of Proverbs. Otherwise, to take you through all that, I'd have to write a whole book. Oh, hang on just a minute...
So we've got in place who wrote Proverbs, what difference it makes, how the book is shaped, what the book is about, and how to approach proverbs. All that is absolutely essential, for starters.
The next step is translating Proverbs. If you're a pastor and you don't read Hebrew, I'd urge you to get started in learning it. For this, I'll assume that you've learned it and, since your job is to teach the Bible and 2/3 of it is in Hebrew, you use it all the time.
So here BibleWorks is (as always) my best friend. As I've shown you in the past, its Notes editor is simply a Godsend to me, and it's in constant use as I prepare sermons. I can't imagine doing what I do, without BibleWorks.
So what I literally do in Proverbs is transfer every word to Notes, and break it up so I can make notes on the words. I begin with each word getting its own slot, though that will occasionally be supplemented by phrases deserving a note. Here's a screen shot from Proverbs 7:7, which was then in the planning-stages for a coming sermon:
You'll notice that my working translation is at the top, then some initial observations, then the lexical entries start. I do a search on each word's use in Proverbs; if it's already been worked on, I refer to those places. I'll also keep an eye for Solomon's abundant artistic flourishes, like the sound-play noted in red ink (aBINah BABBANIm). Of course, such observations often don't end up in the sermon, but they feed me, and if I ever write a commentary or lecture at seminary, they'll likely show up there.
Again, here's a "finished" one from Proverbs 3:4, showing what it ends up looking like:
At the top is the verse as rendered in my Proverbs book; the next is the version I ended up using in preaching, with a minor change. Then I note the opening phrase and-find-grace, with material from commenters Waltke and Steinmann, and grammar. The hyperlinks are to the resources in Logos.
So I do lexical searches within Proverbs, and usually in the larger Canon as well. Then I refer to the lexical authorities such as BDB, HALOT, TLOT, TWOT, and NIDOTTE, as well as any of a dozen or so grammars, including Waltke-O'Connor, Joüon, GKC, Davidson (latter two = old, but still useful) and others, and copy info with links lavishly. My design is to end up with a little study-center in the Notes of BibleWorks.
All through this process, I'm noting words that are repeated within the section or chapter. Often, these are excellent clues as to how the chapter lays out or what it's about. This is just one of those places where Hebrew is essential, since English versions sometimes obscure connections (and, regularly, chiasms) by using different words and billowy syntax. The ESV is really frustrating about that; it's a main reason why I always provide my own more literal translation in my sermon outlines for the church.
Next step is usually to decide (A) what are the borders of the section, and (B) what is the shape within the section. This was really rough, in preaching chapter 3. Good arguments could be (and are) made for it being three sections, two sections, or one large section. This is the point at which I usually begin engaging the commentaries, focusing at this point with how they see the section laid out. Often I'll use the Editor tab in BibleWorks and do a study on this issue alone — as indeed I did with chapters 3, 6, and others.
I mention commentaries. Which are being most helpful, and which are pretty much worthless?
That will be a worthy focus in the next post.
Programming note: as of this week, I begin posting Tuesdays and Fridays (DV), instead of Tuesdays and Thursdays. Thursday is now the Greatest Hits day.
This way to the next (third) post.