On Sunday, Rev. Joshua Patty preached about Proverbs, the collection of short, wise sayings in the Hebrew Bible. Together with some essays about the nature of wisdom in the opening chapters, this collection emphasizes that God is the source of all wisdom. Thus, for people "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" -- meaning the appreciation of God as the source of all wisdom is the basis for any true wisdom a person may attain in this life.
The sermon was framed by the recent death of noted preacher Rev. Dr. Fred Craddock, who was famous for his unique style and his storytelling. Craddock's style offered an interesting contrast to Proverbs -- where Craddock's stories are curious and offer many possible lessons, the proverbs are to the point and offer explicit teaching. Much of this teaching is practical, pointing out all of the behaviors that can damage human life (because that which does not help you, hurts you). Even some behavior which we might understand and tolerate, like happiness at the suffering or defeat of enemies, is a no-no because this attitude of vengeance is corrosive for the person who feels it.
Essentially, the Proverbs can be summed up in two basic lessons: 1) God is the source of wisdom and 2) don't be evil.
Click here to listen to the sermon.
You can also listen to the related Communion meditation, which reflects on how Jesus expands the teaching of Proverbs in his Sermon on the Mount.