I’ve been reading Mortimer Adler’s book, How to Read a Book (the old edition is better). I’ve always assumed the book was simplistic, telling me how to do something that I’m competent to do, thank you very much. But instead, I find it challenging and stimulating, not merely as Adler describes what an active reader looks like, but also as I consider the implications for teachers of God’s Word.
It strikes me that as we encourage our children to read their Bibles, it makes sense that we learn (and then teach) how to be active readers of God’s Word. Of course, we all intend to be active readers, and we especially intend for our children to be active readers. We may not, however, know the best way to learn and teach this skill. Is there anyone in the Bible who takes on this task? Absolutely. King Solomon is not just an example, but a master who should be studied for his method as much as for his content.
How does Solomon approach the mentoring process (using the word deliberately to draw a connection)? I can remember being a child and reading the first chapters of Proverbs. I found it somewhat frustrating. Why didn’t Solomon just tell me what wisdom WAS? All he did was tell me how wonderful it was and say wisdom is like such and so, and so on. I didn’t realize that Solomon was deliberately whetting my appetite to become an active pursuer of wisdom. What I wanted as a child was for someone to simply tell me what wisdom was (and by extension, what do do when I wanted to know it). I had to learn that wisdom is not simply knowledge that is poured into the vessel of a simple mind. Wisdom is a gem that can only be gained by mining it one’s self.
So perhaps the first goal, whether we’re looking at helping our children, Sunday school students, ourselves, other women, is to whet their appetite. How can this be accomplished?
Read with me in Proverbs, and see if you can identify ways that Solomon is attempting to motivate us to do the hard work necessary for wisdom. Here are a few of many.
- He teaches us that wisdom can be found.
- He promises to help us find it (he doesn’t give an outline! that’s not incompetence, it is deliberate)
- He tells us all the benefits of wisdom (that would make a good list, wouldn’t it?!)
- He gives us tantalizing metaphors that help us imagine how valuable and desirable wisdom is.