As we start through Proverbs, I must admit to a little uncertainty in how to present this book. There are a broad variety of themes within Proverbs, even within the chapters themselves. I briefly considered organizing this book by themes, but ultimately, I decided to go chapter by chapter as I have with the other books. That said, in chapters where there are multiple themes, I’ll probably list “nuggets of wisdom” within the chapter, and very brief thoughts on them within the one blog, rather than a full blog on just one or two verses at a time.
With two books left in the Old Testament, I’m not in a hurry to go through Proverbs, so I’ll allot about two months to go through the book, and then the Song of Solomon. Hopefully, we can start the gospels around Christmastime. This plan, of course, is subject to change.
Anyway, the first few verses are the introduction to the book of Proverbs, and in them, Solomon writes the reason for writing this compilation, namely,
To know wisdom and instruction, to discern the sayings of understanding, to receive instruction in wise behavior, righteousness, justice and equity…to give prudence…knowledge and discretion…and wise counsel, to understand a proverb and a figure, the words of the wise and their riddles. (2-6)
Who was it meant for? This part is interesting. It was meant for the naive and the youth first (4). Namely, to teach them prudence. In other words, to teach them good judgment as they deal with the “real world.” Not only that, but to give them knowledge they don’t have, and discretion in all their affairs whether it’s finances, relationships, or whatever it may be.
Now this makes sense. But Solomon also says it’s for those who have already attained a measure of wisdom, that they may hear and increase in their learning. Not only that, but that they would get the wise counsel that they need.
It’s so easy for us as we get older to think we know it all. To think we already know all we need to. But Solomon says here that it’s important to continue increasing in wisdom and learning. Because even those who are “wise” can forget and make mistakes that destroy their lives. Solomon himself is a great example of this. He was the wisest man who ever lived, and yet, he wrecked his own life by his own bad decisions.
What is the key to wisdom? Solomon give the answer in verse 7,
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
Solomon also wrote in Proverbs 9:10,
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
People who are wise will fear the Lord. It is only when we begin to fear him that wisdom truly begins. Why? Because he’s our creator. He’s the one who knows how life is meant to work. When you want to know how something is meant to work, go to its designer.
But when you try to do things your own way, it inevitably leads to trouble. And God says if you do so, you are a fool.
We often think of fools as stupid people. And certainly doing things your own way leads to doing stupid things. But the word fool in the Bible has the idea of a person who is morally deficient and corrupt.
Not only does despising God and his wisdom lead to stupid decisions, it mars us and makes us less than the complete people God created us to be. When people look at us, they are meant to see the image of God in us. But how often do you look at yourself in the mirror and see something less than that because of what you’ve done to your own self?
God wants us to be whole. He wants us to be complete. He wants us to reflect his image. But for that to happen, we need to embrace him and the wisdom he freely gives to those who ask him.
Don’t be a fool. Don’t think you know it all. As you read the proverbs in this book, open your hearts to them. Drink them in. And ask God to speak to you and change you into his image.