Though I've loved Proverbs for decades, the thought of actually preaching Proverbs — moving through it consecutively — was daunting to me. I'd preached from Proverbs here and there, and even included suggestions and an appendix on preaching the whole in my book on Proverbs — but I'd not yet actually done it.
Once I determined to preach through at least chapters 1—9, one looming issue I knew I'd have to confront is dealing with the size and shape of the discourses. I knew that there were extended sections, some of which were pretty easy to trace as to start and stop (i.e. 1:8-19, then 20-33). But I also knew that others were not so obvious at all — such as chapters 2, 3, 4... All these were matters of debate among Top Men, and if I preached, I'd have to make my own decisions.
So let's see: I'd have to...
- Translate Hebrew poetry (always a challenge);
- Discern where the discourse started and stopped (no agreement among Top Men);
- Find the shape within and point(s) of each discourse;
- Interpret each discourse; and...
- Process how to preach each section — meaning: In how many sermons? In what way, specifically for the glory of Christ in a Christian church? How to take in-depth exegesis, light it on fire, and translate it into passionate Christ-exalting preaching?
Of course, it hasn't been a piece of cake. It has, however, been "the breakfast of champions," somewhat like a literary Bowflex. Given the amount and depth of research and thought I invest every week, it's been literally (and I only use "literally" literally) like writing a term-paper every week. Now, believe me, I'm not complaining in any way; I've loved it. But it's a real workout.
Now I'm sharing with you a series of posts just on Proverbs 6 as an example. It's fresh in my mind, and it makes for a good test-case.
So here's what you do: read through Proverbs 6, and see how you think it lays out. Is it one discourse? Two? Four, or five? What of themes — how many themes does the chapter feature? Five? One? And further, how would you preach it? Would you preach one sermon? Or two? How would you divide your sermons? Would you do like Ray Ortlund does in his book on preaching Proverbs, and lump together 6:20—7:27 into one treatment, as if it were all the same?
If you'll tussle with that chapter a bit and "prime the pump," you'll get more out of our subsequent studies.
Or you could go through the sermons I preached on chapter six.
But that'd be cheating.
NEXT: where even to start?