05 August 2014

Grin and Garrett

by Dan Phillips

In the past and more than once I've shared that the NAC volume on Proverbs (plus Solomon's other books) by Duane Garrett is...er... not my favorite. In fact, what I've said is that mostly it disappoints. Four out of five times when I've gone for help on a verse, Garrett may not even talk about the verse, or doesn't offer much.

All that to say this: Garrett has helped me a lot in approaching the last section of Proverbs 10. As you know, I'm coming to the end of preaching Proverbs 1—10. Despite (or because of) decades of studying Proverbs, the prospect of preaching through this section verse by verse was daunting, brimming with challenges and terrors. As I have drawn near each section, I've wondered how in the world I was going to preach it — but then, when I got under the hood, it's all falling together.

Or it had until I'd done verses 15-17, a triplet of verses on wealth, wisdom and life, tied together by concept and by tag-word. After that I found myself looking down the barrel of verses 18-32. What was facing me now? Fifteen separate sermons? Clusters? Any structure? Anything at all?


Various commenters said this, that, or nothing. But it was actually Duane Garrett whose approach fit the text best to me. He saw it as a chiasm:
A:  On the tongue (vv. 19–21)
B:   On personal security (vv. 22–25)
C:   On laziness (v. 26)
B´: On personal security (vv. 27–30)
A´: On the tongue (vv. 31–32)

You'll note Garrett starts with v. 19, because he emends the text of v. 18 and groups it otherwise. I'm not persuaded by the emendation and, that being the case, see it as obviously fitting just fine with the first cluster of verses on the tongue.

I was really grateful for Garrett's vision on these verses. It just remained for me to make it my own, and to adapt it for preaching. So I added verse 18 to the first cluster, and came up with this:

A:    Speech (vv. 18–21)
B:    Security (vv. 22–25)
C:    Sloth (v. 26)
B´:  Security (vv. 27–30)
A´:  Speech (vv. 31–32)

 The chiasm looks like this:

I preached the first section (vv. 18-21) last Sunday. Gazing at it, reflecting, praying after all my studying, I saw that the whole was connected not only by the topic of speech, but by the fact that each verse posed a paradox. So I preached it under the title Communication: Perilous Paradoxes.

That done, I now need to decide whether what remains breaks down into four sermons, three... or something else. But I d have a structure to work within!

For which I'm happy to credit Duane Garrett.

Dan Phillips's signature


Solameanie said...

Well, Dan..if anyone is gifted to preach on Proverbs, you are. The book (and I'm repeating myself) is outstanding. I do wish more churches would pick it up for study, and I in general don't recommend books other than the Bible itself for Sunday school etc. But since the book is a study on a book of the Bible verse by verse...it's super.

Also interesting to me i.e. the post at hand, it begins and ends with "the tongue" or "speech." I've been reflecting a lot lately on that subject, and related verses such as "out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks," etc. It gets preached on from time to time, but I wonder how seriously we really take what we say on a day to day basis, and ponder the impact of what we say on those who hear us say it?

It really is a sobering reflection.

Mark Hanson said...

I notice you changed his chiastic outline to use words of the same letter in yours. How alliterate!

DJP said...