Teaching Proverbs to Your Children

August 8, 2013

photoFor the last several years, our devotional times with our kids has centered on the grand narrative of Scripture.  We primarily used The Big Picture Story Bible and Jesus Storybook Bible for this.  In the last few weeks, we have started working through the Proverbs with our children.  Our oldest two are now seven and five, so we recognized their need for wisdom.  As we have been reading through Proverbs and talking with them, I have seen several practical benefits of teaching the Proverbs to our girls.

It teaches them that they need wisdom they do not naturally possess.
King Solomon wrote Proverbs so that his son might learn to be wise.  In the first chapter he says the reader will gain knowledge, insight, and discretion.  The result is that that he will live his life with righteousness, justice, and equity.  While promising this wisdom, he reveals the audience that he is aiming for.  Solomon tells us that the simple will learn prudence and the youth will learn knowledge.  He further states that the one who is wise will listen.

The introduction suggests that children do not possess the wisdom that is needed for a fruitful, godly, and joyous life.  In fact, this only confirms what people see in reality.  When Solomon says that “folly is bound up in the heart of a child,” we know that he is right.  We readily see that our kids are made in God’s image, but we also see the reality of sin and folly in their lives.  Proverbs speaks to them as made in God’s image, but desperately foolish.  Reading through Proverbs and seeing the instruction in this book will help them to see their folly and will open in them an awareness of their foolishness.

It teaches them that the Bible speaks into real life situations.
Last night our devotion centered on the words “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.”  This gave me the opportunity to talk to my daughters about the words that they use.  We were able to use real life illustrations of how words can hurt and how words can build up.  They interacted with me and talked about how words have hurt them and how words have helped them.  They could see the reality of this text and it addressed them where they are.

The Apostle Paul teaches in 2 Timothy that all Scripture is inspired by God and that it is all useful for life and godliness.  Proverbs helps children begin to understand this in a real way.  It talks about anger, words, and money.  It teaches the value of hard work and the folly of laziness.  It teaches about the heart as the fountain of their character and guides them in understanding why they do what they do.

It teaches them that they need the Gospel.
Working through the book of Proverbs will reveal the sin and foolishness that is in the hearts of their children.  As you read about how words can destroy, they will be reminded of times that they used their words to hurt people.  They will have the times that they have lied held up in front of them.  Their inherent greed will be exposed.

If we are not careful, Proverbs can turn into “be a better person so that you can have a better life.”  If we keep Proverbs emphasis on the heart in the forefront, Proverbs provides a great opportunity to expose our children to the Gospel.  We can show them that Jesus is the wisdom of God.  We get to tell them that Jesus gave his life for all of our sin and folly, and that there is forgiveness offered to us all through faith in him.

Some Practical Suggestions:
When you have small children, reading through an entire chapter of Proverbs with them is difficult.  Because their is not a logical flow or narrative progress, they start getting confused.  We have found it to be more beneficial to work with only a few verses at a time.  Then we go through the verses and ask the kids what they think that they mean.  When we are met with the inevitable blank stares, we try to work through individual words and help them figure out what the verse is talking about.  This easily transitions into practical ways to help them understand the message of the verse and how it impacts their own heart and life.

Related posts:
How to Do Family Devotion

Scott Slayton

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Scott Slayton is the Lead Pastor at Chelsea Village Baptist Church in Chelsea, AL. He and Beth have been married since 2003 and have four children.