The Proverbs in scripture are full of not just good advice, but great advice and light for living. Useful for instruction, for correction, not just for our children but even as adults we can come under the conviction of the Holy Spirit by reading and internalizing the Proverbs. But, it’s internalizing them and truly understanding their meaning that is sometimes difficult. This week, I’d like to take what I hope is an educational, insightful, and fun look at the Proverbs in a deeper way.
The word “proverbs” means “a short popular saying,… that expresses effectively some commonplace truth or useful thought,” or “a wise saying or thought.” We know that in the Biblical book of Proverbs, the Word says that these sayings are useful for instruction. We quote the proverbs frequently to our children, most likely, and probably we try to emulate them ourselves most of the time.
But, occasionally, we receive a misinterpretation and even a wrong teaching based on someone’s idea of what a verse or proverb means, when that’s not what it says at all. There is one scripture that I frequently hear misquoted. “Money is the root of all evil” is just an incorrect quote. 1 Timothy 6:10 says, “For the love of money is the root of all evil.” Have you ever heard that misquoted? I’ll bet you have. Money isn’t evil in itself; it’s our love and lust for too much of a good thing that is evil.
That’s right there in black and white, is it not? Of course it is. So why is that missed so often? Why have we learned (and been taught) wrong interpretation of that particular scripture? I heard it quoted this way again recently, from the pulpit (sad to say – and not my own preacher!!), and the Lord showed me some truth in it. I took my kids to the scripture itself and had them read it. Right away, my oldest student, a high school student and grammatical expert, caught the error.
He was the first to catch it not, as you might assume, because he’s just older. (Obviously, the preacher in the pulpit was quite a bit older than my son.) It’s because he knows grammar. He knows grammar because of his extensive diagramming experience. He was able to see that the phrase “of money” is a prepositional phrase, and because it is, it must modify a set of specific portions of the sentence. In this case, “of money” modifies “love”. And yes, it’s a partial sentence, because the phrase “for the love” is modifying something before it as well, but… Biblical grammar isn’t always precise.
So, then, if Biblical grammar isn’t always precise, and almost every numbered verse seems to start with yet another prepositional phrase or modifier of some sort, how then are we to ensure that we are receiving correct interpretation?
My son is familiar with extensive grammar because of sentence diagramming. He has done diagramming of sentences since he was 8 years old; that’s about 7 years now, and I can tell you that he knows his grammar better than I do. I almost became an English teacher when, in high school, I realized that I was able to grasp grammatical concepts easily and most others in my honors English course – even as sophomores – still could not. My son’s knowing grammar better than I know it is saying something, actually. (Just had to point that part out! …and then he corrected my grammar in that sentence. I’ve created a monster.)
If you can diagram the sentence – and at the link above, I have provided a printout for you to do just that – you will see that “money” isn’t even the subject of the sentence. The subject of the sentence is, in fact, the word “love.” (The preposition “for” indicates that “love” is actually objective to a sentence that started before this. We show that in the diagram by having the “for” on a diagonal line, indicating that this sentence is actually a fragment. The preposition “for” shows that we are being given a reason behind whatever was stated previously. The sentence can stand on its own, as a statement of that reason.)
I almost had a diagram of the very first few verses of Proverbs 1 here for you. It turns out, the first several verses in this chapter are all linked into one sentence and that diagram is massive and complicated. It’s one thing to draw these things out, and it’s a complete other thing to map them out in a file for printing’s sake. So, for my sake, that very first half-dozen-verses-long sentence won’t be part of our diagramming exercise on Proverbs for the week. You should be aware, though, that my son totally did the diagram for it. I am in awe. I have ended this blog post with that quote, because it speaks to my heart about why I’m doing what I’m doing this week.
What am I doing? Well, I’m so glad you asked!
I am going to provide for you, my readers, free printables for diagramming the Proverbs. I will at least have chapter 1, complete with answer keys, by the end of the week. I hope to also include chapter 2. Each day I will discuss some of the Proverbs and wise sayings included in the packet, and how you might gain better interpretation on this verse or that because of the diagram. I am having my son diagram the entire book of Proverbs, and plan to put these printables out as an eBook very soon!
Do you already have your students doing sentence diagrams? I would love to hear about your students’ diagramming experience, your thoughts on diagramming the Proverbs as a method of instruction, and any input or suggestions you might have as I collaborate with my son to put together this eBook for you! Please leave me a comment today or any day this week (or on this series, even after it’s finished, during the next couple of weeks) to let me know how this might be useful in your homeschool. Thank you! Be blessed!
The Usefulness of Proverbs
1 The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel:
2 To know wisdom and instruction,
To discern the sayings of understanding,
3 To receive instruction in wise behavior,
Righteousness, justice and equity;
4 To give prudence to the [a]naive,
To the youth knowledge and discretion,
5 A wise man will hear and increase in learning,
And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel,
6 To understand a proverb and a figure,
The words of the wise and their riddles.
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Anne Marie @ Future.Flying.Saucers ~ Christian Worldview 101
Marya @ Suncoast Momma ~ Homeschooling Special Needs
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Lisa @ Farm Fresh Adventures ~ Our Favorite Family Recipes
Dawn @ Double O Farms ~ Helping Your Struggling Learner
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Christine @ Our Homeschool Reviews ~ Free and Frugal Homeschooling
Monique @ Living Life and Learning ~ Homeschooling with Lapbooks