This is one in a series of reviews of the weekly lessons found in the Come, Follow Me for Individuals and Families published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To link to all of the 2022 teachings, click here. Bold face type in this article comes from the Church’s curriculum. (Note: Not every sentence written in the curriculum is being reviewed.)
August 29-September 4
Proverbs 1-4; 15-16; 22; 31; Ecclesiastes 1-3; 11-12
In the first chapter of the book of Proverbs, we find these words: “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother” (Proverbs 1:8). Proverbs can be seen as a collection of wise sayings from a loving parent, whose main message is that blessings of peace and prosperity come to those who seek wisdom—particularly the kind of wisdom God offers. But Proverbs is followed by the book of Ecclesiastes, which seems to say, “It’s not that simple.” The Preacher quoted in Ecclesiastes observed that he “gave [his] heart to know wisdom” but still found “vexation of spirit” and “much grief” (Ecclesiastes 1:17–18). In a variety of ways, the book asks, “Can there be real meaning in a world where everything seems vain, temporary, and uncertain?”
And yet, while the two books look at life from different perspectives, they teach similar truths. Ecclesiastes declares: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). This is the same principle found throughout Proverbs: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart. … Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord” (Proverbs 3:5, 7). No matter what life holds, even when it seems confusing and random, it is always better when we trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.
So far, no problems. Starting slowly and not having objectionable material at the front end seems to be true for many of the chapters in this year’s series.
Ideas for Personal Scripture Study
Proverbs 1–4; 15–16
“Incline thine ear unto wisdom.”
The book of Proverbs is filled with insights about wisdom. Consider marking the word “wisdom” and related words, like “knowledge” and “understanding,” as you find them in chapters 1–4 and 15–16. How do these chapters affect the way you think about wisdom? Based on what you find, how would you describe the wisdom that “the Lord giveth”? (Proverbs 2:6). Consider how you are seeking the Lord’s help to be “wise in heart” (Proverbs 16:21). What blessings come from God’s wisdom?
While the author(s) of the series wants words like wisdom to be associated with “knowledge,” this is really not the case, as there is a difference in the meaning. Knowledge is the discovery of what is true. Wisdom is the process in embarking on the discovery.
I bring this up because Joseph Smith said he used James 1:5 as a prooftext for praying about truth. It says,
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
This verse is used today to challenge potential converts to pray about the Book of Mormon and see if they get confirmation that the book is true. But notice, it does not say to pray for knowledge but rather wisdom. In the context, this passage is talking about praying for wisdom when encountering trials and temptations. In His Word, God promises that He will provide a way out.
Proverbs 1:7; 2:5; 16:6; 31:30; Ecclesiastes 12:13
What is the “fear of the Lord”?
Elder David A. Bednar explained: “Unlike worldly fear that creates alarm and anxiety, godly fear is a source of peace, assurance, and confidence. … [It] encompasses a deep feeling of reverence, respect, and awe for the Lord Jesus Christ; obedience to His commandments; and anticipation of the Final Judgment and justice at His hand. … Godly fear is loving and trusting in Him” (“Therefore They Hushed Their Fears,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2015, 48–49).
I have no problem with Bednar’s description of the meaning of the fear of the Lord.
“Ponder the path of thy feet.”
Proverbs 4 describes wisdom and righteousness as a “path” or a “way” (see also Proverbs 3:5–6). As you read this chapter, you might find passages that help you ponder “the path of thy feet” (verse 26) and how your steps are drawing you closer to the Lord. For example, what do verses 11–12 and 18–19 teach about the blessings of following the right path? What do verses 26 and 27 mean to you?
One of the worst questions a Bible teacher can say is “what do these verses mean to you?” The problem is a person can come up with plenty of nonsense of what a passage “means” to him or her. Instead, the question should be quite simply, “What do verses 26 and 27 mean?”
Verses 26-27 explain that the “straight and narrow” is how the wise person plods ahead. Chapter 4 is full of sound advice:
- Verses 1, 20: Listen to a father’s instruction
- Verse 2: Don’t forsake my teaching
- Verse 4: Keep God’s commands
- Verse 5: Don’t forget the instruction
- Verse 6: Do not forsake wisdom
- Verse 7: Sell out for wisdom
- Verse 13: Hold out to instruction
- Verse 14: Watch out for those who are evil
- Verse 21: Don’t let wisdom out of your sight
- Verse 23: Guard your heart
- Verse 24: Get rid of corrupt talk
- Verse 25: Fix your sight ahead
I like that last one regarding fix your sight. Hebrews 12:2 says that we ought to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith”!
Proverbs 15:1–2, 4, 18, 28; 16:24–32
“A soft answer turneth away wrath.”
Some of the proverbs in chapters 15 and 16 may inspire you to improve the way you communicate with others, especially loved ones. For example, think about specific times when you could have used “a soft answer” rather than “grievous words” (Proverbs 15:1). How does the counsel in Proverbs 16:24–32 help you think about the words you use?
The first few verses of James 3 says,
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2 For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. 3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. 4 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.
The tongue is a tricky creature and it is impossible to tame!
“A woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.”
Proverbs 31:10–31 describes “a virtuous woman,” or a woman of great spiritual strength, capability, and influence. You might try summarizing in your own words what each of these verses says about her. What are some of her traits that you can emulate?
A wonderful chapter known as the “Proverbs Woman.”
Ecclesiastes 1–3; 12
Mortal life is temporary.
Why is it valuable for you to remember that much in this world, as Ecclesiastes 1–2 asserts, is “vanity” (or temporary and often unimportant)? What do you find in chapter 12 that gives life eternal value?
I love the last part of Ecclesiastes 12, that the conclusion of the matter is to “fear God and keep his commandments.” Christians believe that good works are what we do because it proclaims who we are, children of God (John 1:12; 1 John 3:1).
Honestly, this is a chapter that I don’t have a problem with. The authors did not go out of their way to cite from their unique standard works to cause me the typical angst I have. Although there is a not a lot of depth in a lesson covering two entire books of the Old Testament, I thought the lesson was fine.