“Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care.” (Ecclesiastes 12:9).
People ask me if I get nervous before teaching the Bible. The short answer is yes, I do get nervous. Sometimes it is because I’m guest teaching in a new place. Sometimes it is because I am handling a difficult passage that day. Sometimes I have no idea why. But I do get nervous from time to time. It is a huge responsibility to explain and apply and exhort people with and from the Word of God. It is His Word, not mine, and the responsibility is awesome.
Solomon saw the role of the teacher or preacher. Notice what this Preacher did: he “weighed, studied, and arranged many proverbs with great care.” Other translations say he “pondered” and “sought out” and “set in order.” This sounds an awful lot like the work of the modern Bible teacher, for we must think about the Word, studying it diligently, and arrange an ordered teaching that will help God’s people grow.
Before arranging the teaching, the teacher has to weigh and study. This is work. A few verses later Solomon mentioned that “much study is weariness to the flesh” (Ecc 12:12). In other words, it is fatiguing to get after it in study.
Recently, a friend and I sat for coffee. At one point in our conversation, we began talking about the difficulty our minds have in focusing. It almost seems as if the internet is designed to ruin our ability to think linearly, instead causing us to click a link, a photo, a button every five seconds. But teachers must not allow this to happen to their brains. We must work hard to keep our ability to think long and hard about a matter.
I think much of the secret to good Bible teaching is that the teacher kept their butt in their chair longer than they wanted to. By sticking with it and continuing to “weigh and study,” the message grew stronger and clearer within them. Once razor sharp in their own heart and mind, the message becomes sharp and helpful to the congregation. Through study, they were enabled to “arrange” a meaningful and helpful message. The Word became clearer as they searched it out.
As a pastor-teacher, I long to grow in this ability to weigh, study, and arrange Bible teachings that edify the congregation. I don’t want to speak my words, empty words, or confused words. I want to have a growing clarity in my teaching. I want to arrange those proverbs with great care.