Proverbs: Wisdom for Life
Sep 15, 2017 · Courtney Jacob
Most of us desire to become our best selves. We strive to make moral choices, learn from our mistakes, and better our lives. But where do we seek the information and counsel we need along the way?
For Bible teacher and pastor, Warren Wiersbe, the answer is simple. In his Old Testament commentary on Proverbs entitled, Be Skillful: God’s Guidebook to Wise Living, he describes why he believes we should turn to the biblical book of Proverbs.
“Believers who learn the key proverbs in this book will have at their disposal the wisdom they need for making right decisions day after day. The truths found in Proverbs touch upon every important area of human life, such as acquiring and using wealth, making and keeping friends, building a happy home, avoiding temptation and trouble, controlling our feelings, disciplining the tongue, and building godly character” (p. 22).
Most people recognize the immense wisdom packed in the pithy sayings found in Proverbs. Some of these saying hold such recognizable truth for our daily lives that they’ve permeated our culture. But what if we tried to distill down all of the individual sayings in Proverbs to discover the thesis of the book? What would it be? This is the purpose of our next Groundwork series: “The Essence of Proverbs.”
The Essence of Proverbs
Like an abstract for a research paper or scholarly article, Proverbs outlines its own purpose and theme in its opening chapter:
1:1The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:
2for gaining wisdom and instruction;
for understanding words of insight;
3for receiving instruction in prudent behavior,
doing what is right and just and fair;
4for giving prudence to those who are simple,
knowledge and discretion to the young—
5let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance—
6for understanding proverbs and parables,
the sayings and riddles of the wise.
7The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
It is clear that the essence of Proverbs is wisdom, more specifically, wisdom as God understands it, not as the world understands it. What’s the difference? There can only be one definition of wisdom, right? This is where it’s prudent of us to recall what the Lord told the prophet Samuel in 1 Samuel 16:7, when he sent the prophet to anoint the next king of Israel:
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Similarly, through Proverb’s catchy yet deeply profound sayings, the writers have composed for us a rich picture of godly wisdom, distinctly at odds with the expectations of the world.
Two Perspectives: Wisdom and Folly
I invite you to join Groundwork as we seek to grasp the unexpected nature of wisdom Proverbs presents us. Together in “The Essence of Proverbs,” we’ll study wisdom from two perspectives...
...and together we’ll grow in godly wisdom and Jesus Christ, in whom the Apostle Paul says all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden (Colossians 2:2-3).