Note: Joel Vancil, formerly of Du Quoin, is now pastor of Double Heads Baptist Church in Sylvania, Georgia.
Today, let's talk acrostics.
We use acrostics all the time. An example of an acrostic is: "MADD".
In the spirit of Mother's Day, MADD stands for, "Mothers Against Drunk Driving."
In the Bible, acrostics are also used. Inconveniently though, when you discover an acrostic in the Bible, they are generally far more complex. I learned while in sermon prep in this passage from Proverbs, that Proverbs 31:10-31 is an acrostic which sequentially incorporates the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
Every verse in this portion of scripture begins with a successively different letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
The topic of Proverbs 31:10-31 concerns the characteristics of what would seem to be the ideal woman, as instituted by God. By using the alphabet as an acrostic guide, we are getting to the upmost-poetic-degree, an A to Z praising of her.
The book of Proverbs is all about wisdom and wise living. In the book of Proverbs, wisdom is often referred to as a "she". The woman of Proverbs 31 personifies wisdom. The woman of Proverbs 31 is shown to be a person who has put into practice all of the wisdom teachings of the book of Proverbs.
Ultimately, the woman of Proverbs 31, by principle, can serve as an example to us all, in the exact same way a wise person -- male or female -- will do.
The person being described here summarizes the entire book of Proverbs by what she puts into practice.
Further, since she is practicing it, the Proverbs 31 woman is shown to be actively bearing the fruit of her wisdom: influence, respect, wealth, joy, etc.
There is a story about 4 preachers who were standing around at a conference, and discussing the merits of various translations of the Bible. Which was their favorite translation, least favorite, what they like to study from, preach from, etc.
One liked the King James Version best because of its beautiful, eloquent Shakespearean English.
Another liked the English Standard Version best because it was the closest available literal word-for-word translation to the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts.
Still another liked a contemporary version like the New Revised, because of its up-to-date and modern vocabulary.
The fourth minister was silent for a moment, then said, "I like my mother's translation best."
Surprised, and answering almost sarcastically, the other three men said they didn't know his mother had translated the Bible.
"Yes," he replied in a very straightforward manner, "She translated it into life, and it was the most convincing translation I've ever seen."