For those of us who follow the Revised Common Lectionary, there are a few books of the Bible that don’t often make a pronounced appearance in the three-year rotation. For instance: Judges, Nehemiah, Esther, and Song of Solomon make a single appearance in each rotation and Leviticus, Ruth, and Ecclesiastes only show up a few times. While readings from Proverbs appear a handful of times over the three-year arc, their presence is limited. Yet proverbs (note the lowercase p) are a huge part of our lives. We often use them to bolster ourselves during hard times and to explain that which seems unexplainable. In this lesson, your children will explore the concept of a proverb, read a selection from Proverbs and select a proverb (or two) that fits your family’s outlook on life.
Begin the time with your children by asking them to think of common sayings they have heard people use to help someone out or explain something. Alternately, share some well-known phrases with your children. (Here’s a few to get you started: This too shall pass. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Put your best foot forward.) After you share each of these sayings, ask your children what they mean to them. Then talk about why people use catchy statements like these. Explain that each of these sayings is meant to teach us something about life. Many paint pictures in our minds to help us see the idea they are sharing. They aim to share something that we believe is generally true. Often, they seek to comfort or encourage us.
Prepare to share the Scripture reading by opening your Bible to the book of Proverbs. Show your children a page of this book. Note that the words on the page look like a poem. Within these poems there are sentences that relate to one another but also could be taken on their own as sayings. Explain that the author of this book, Solomon, shared these proverbs to teach people important ideas. To understand these ideas, we need to think about what wisdom is in the words. We also need to wrestle with the words because the meaning of a proverb is often not easy to grasp the first time you read it. If your children are older, you could read Proverbs 1:1-6 together to discover the purpose of the proverbs together. Share that you will be reading a few of these proverbs today and will be working together to figure out what important ideas are in them.
Read aloud Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23. Pause after each proverb and talk about what it means to each person. What ideas jump out at you? If there are phrases that are confusing, talk through what they might mean. As you do this, tell your children that they are doing the work that Solomon asks his readers to do. They are looking for the wisdom in the words. If you have time, select a few other proverbs to explore. You can have your children randomly select them by thumbing through the pages of this book, or you can focus in on the proverbs that have special meaning for you.
Once you have finished discussing the Scripture reading, gather the following art supplies: crayons or markers and construction or printer paper. Then, ask your children to think about proverbs they read today or have heard in the past that say something about life that they believe is important and true. If there is not an existing proverb that fits, encourage them to make up their own. Explain that because a proverb aims to teach others an important idea, they will be making art to share their proverbs with others. Ask each child to write their proverb on a piece of paper. If the child is pre-literate, you can write the words for her. Then ask the child to decorate the page with pictures or colors that relate to the proverb. Hang their art somewhere in your home where it will serve as a reminder of this important idea or give it to someone your child wants to share the proverb with.
JOELLE BRUMMIT-YALE is the director of children’s and youth ministries at Chapel in the Pines Presbyterian in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. When not at the church, she can usually be found at home with her son and husband caring for their many animals and developing their family homestead.