To provide the youth with: a) an understanding of Proverbial wisdom’s understanding of cause and effect: the act-consequence nature of reality; b) the value of wisdom as guidance for life.
To engage the proverbial understanding of cause and effect: The Act-Consequence Nature of Reality (and its limits).
Yale Bible Study Wisdom Literature (8 week course)
Here are some resources the leader may choose to review while preparing the lesson. In some circumstances, you may choose to share parts of them with your youth:
From Gerhard von Rad, Wisdom in Israel, at 124:
In both cases we are dealing with one of the main tasks which the wise men, in their search for knowledge, took upon themselves, namely with the mastering of the ‘contingent’. By the term contingent’ we mean here simply all those events which cannot be understood by man purely on the basis of a necessity with which he is familiar. Daily, incessantly, man encounters contingent events (chance events) whose meaning and inner necessity are at first hidden from him. Only occasionally does he succeed in recognizing behind the contingent event a clear, inner necessity. Then the experience loses its contingent character, and its place is taken by the awareness of an order which is at work behind the experiences. To a greater extent than modern man, ancient man was disturbed by the awareness of a superior force of
contingent events. To the extent that he regarded himself as in the power of these contingent events, so there grew the feeling of general insecurity. To him it was a threat to be ceaselessly determined and driven by events which defied all interpretation. Thus it is one of man’s basic urges to limit as far as
possible, with all the powers of the keenest observation, the sphere of
contingency and, wherever possible, to wrest from the inscrutable,
contingent event some kind of meaning, albeit a deeply hidden one. Israel, too, took the trouble to discern in events and occurrences a
recognizable set of “inherent laws”. The next most obvious thing to do was to inquire as to what may have preceded any given event which had to be explained. Was it perhaps possible to understand the event as something which had been caused? It is on the basis of this question that one must understand those sentences which determine what usually preceded an experience.
Gather (5 minutes)
Oh, Great Spirit,
Whose voice I hear in the winds
and whose breath gives life to all the world.
Hear me! I need your strength and wisdom.
Let me walk in beauty, and make my eyes
ever hold the red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things you have made
and my ears sharp to hear your voice.
Make me wise so that I may understand
the things you have taught my people.
Let me learn the lessons you have hidden
in every leaf and rock. Amen
Engage (35 minutes)
Activity 1: We Continue Compiling the Great Book of Our Youth Group’s Wisdom (20 Minutes)
Activity 2: The Proverbs Writing Olympics (15 minutes)
Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but those who hate to be rebuked are stupid.
Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to advice.
The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy.
Two things I ask of you; do not deny them to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that I need, or I shall be full, and deny you, and say, “Who is the LORD?” or I shall be poor, and steal, and profane the name of my God.
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.
Anxiety weighs down the human heart, but a good word cheers it up.
Just as water reflects the face, so one human heart reflects another.
If one gives answer before hearing, it is folly and shame.
The human spirit will endure sickness; but a broken spirit — who can bear?
Do not desire the ruler’s delicacies, for they are deceptive food. Do not wear yourself out to get rich; be wise enough to desist.
Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute. Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.
Reflect (15 minutes)
Send Forth (5 minutes)
Invite the youth to join you in prayer. Let them know before you begin that there will be an opportunity for those who wish to lift up requests for God’s help with specific elements of wisdom during the prayer. Give a few possible examples. Note that every time a “petition” is lifted up, the group will respond with, “Lord, hear our prayer.”
Begin the prayer by thanking God for the blessings of creation, the God-given capacities we have to learn from experience, and the lessons learned by those who have gone before that they have passed along to us as “mother wit.” Invite the students to voice petitions asking God to help us embrace particular pieces of wisdom in our lives, communities, and our world. After any student offers a petition (e.g., “Lord, help us to be mindful of the need to think through the consequences of what we say before we speak”) lead the group in responding “Lord, hear our prayer.”
This resource includes supplementary materials:
Introduction for Leaders