Free Proverbs Study Guide, Plus That Time My Bible Told Me To Shut Up!
After a very busy, ministry-filled summer, I have a gift for you! The first half of this post is a Bible Study Guide for personal use or Small Group use. The second part will share what I learned when my Bible told me to shut up!
I am a Bible colorer. Not like the pretty Bible journaling you may have seen, but I mark it up as I read. I have ADD, and while I love to read, I found myself reading entire passages and having no idea what I’d just read because I was also thinking about my to-do list.
So I started reading with a box of colored pencils at hand. As I read, I look for things I may come back to, and things that were significant for any number of reasons. This all started when I was learning inductive Bible study from Kay Arthur’s books and found that marking Scripture made focus much easier.
So a while ago I was reading through Proverbs and found that I was marking pretty much every verse, which leads to pretty pages but nothing standing out. A few chapters in, I was recognizing a pattern- several themes kept repeating themselves. So I decided to go back (in a Bible with clean pages!) and color code these different themes.
What I have now, is a beautiful book of Proverbs with a color code on the last page which I can use to flip through the pages and – at a glance! - find Scripture on exactly what I need in any given moment.
I dragged my Sunday School group into this with me and it made for a great class! So I’d like to share with you what we did and how, so you’ll have yourself a great personal study plan, or small group lesson plan that can fill up several months without purchasing any curriculum!
Coloring the Proverbs Bible Study Plan
STEP 1: Scripture for marking- some of the group was happy and comfortable marking up their own Bibles, but some were not. So I went to Biblegateway.com and printed out the book of Proverbs for each participant who preferred that. Choose whichever translation you prefer – our group found that having several of us reading from different translations led to deeper conversation; when our translations differed, we were able to share. By hearing the same verse a few different ways, we were better able to get the real point being made.
STEP 2: A Color Code Key – You are free to copy the colors I chose, but you may have others you like. Leave room for adding more words or phrases that you or your group may pick up on. Print up a list of these words and phrases, and mark them the way you plan to. Each member will need a color copy of this so they can follow along.
Some themes: Quote to memorize (Super Quote), Financial/ Greed/ Envy, Work Ethic/ Laziness, Fear of the Lord/ Faith Life/ God's Word, Misc. Life Advice, Discipline, Wisdom v. Foolishness, Spoken Words (MINE), Conflict/ Dealing with Difficult People, Our Plans v. God's Plans, Cheating/ Fairness/ Justice, Warnings, Patience/ Prudence, Quarrelsome spouse/ Evil Women/ Good Wife, People to Avoid/ Evil People, God's Protection, Advice/ Counsel, Godly v. Wicked, Pride/ Humility, Shh! (Shut up!), Cheerful Heart.
Note- "People to Avoid" refers to people we should absolutely minister to but should not give a voice of influence in our own life. And in some cases, when this refers to someone toxic in your own life, it really is someone to avoid but to never cease praying for.
STEP 3: A Study Plan – In a group setting, decide how much you will try to cover each week and whether you want to read and color code together or if members should complete a certain amount at home between meetings. NOTE: Having the leader and a few members work at home helps to spur on group conversation, but I found that those in my group who couldn’t make the time were able to keep up well, and were an asset to the conversation. Most importantly, they were made to feel welcome in class and got a lot out of the discussion time. Don’t make homework mandatory.
STEP 4: Discussion Time – In your group, spend time reading through the book of Proverbs verse by verse. Have everyone take turns reading. As you go, pause to talk about what God has to say to us today through what you are reading. Make a rule that all members will focus on what it says to themselves, NOT what other people need to hear from this. We have plenty to be convicted of personally, here, and that’s what our Bible study time is about. It’s time for the Holy Spirit to teach us and transform us.
As you read, share what topic you all chose to mark – some fit into multiple categories, and you can be creative in marking in such a way that they can all be covered.
Step 5: Take your time – We found that some days we could get through two chapters, but other days, something we read in a few verses brought up deep personal struggles or hurts, or other things that our members needed to talk about. This is what the Body of Christ is all about! Take as much time as you need to minister to each other and pick back up where you left off. Going at this pace was an unbelievable way for our group to build relationships while digging deep into God’s word!
And now, that part where the Bible told me to shut up!
Oh, my! One of the themes I found I needed to hear the most, was what I labeled: “Spoken words (MINE).” This book of wisdom is full of teachings on the importance of what we say, when we say it, and how we let it out. And there are a few such references that I marked with a “Shh” in the margins because sometimes we just don’t need to speak!
A second time for the reader who, like me, really needs to hear it: sometimes we just don’t need to speak!
I can’t count the number of times in my own life when a situation was made worse or a relationship damaged because of words I said that didn’t need to be said. And, of course, there are plenty of times I have been on the other end. It’s so important, as we read through these proverbs, that we work extra hard at what WE are guilty of, or could do better, because when it comes right down to it, that’s all we can control. Even then, we need Holy Spirit help!
Just a sampling of what the book of Proverbs has to teach us about the spoken word:
Prov. 10:19 When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise.
Prov. 11:12 He who despises his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding keeps silent.
Prov. 12:18 There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Prov. 15:28 The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.
Prov. 17:28 Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is considered prudent.
Prov. 21:23 He who guards his mouth and his tongue guards his soul from troubles.
Prov. 31:26 She opens her mouth in wisdom and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
So often, I struggle over just what to say and how to say it, and I am learning more and more, the wisdom in keeping my mouth shut. Not all the time of course, but sometimes, it is better to listen. Sometimes, it is better to walk away. Sometimes what a person needs from me is not my words, but my presence. Sometimes asking questions, instead of responding to what I think the other person is saying, leads to a better understanding on both parts.
Spending time digging into Proverbs changed me. It caused me to see a bigger picture. It caused me to see things I needed to allow the Holy Spirit to build up or tear down in me. A year later, those changes are still in progress.