Category: Book of Proverbs


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Proverbs 3:5-6 is a familiar passage to many: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.” Verse 5 is a complementary pair of commands. We are told, positively, to trust the Lord and, negatively, not to trust our own understanding. Those two things are mutually exclusive. In other words, if we trust in the Lord, we cannot also depend upon our own ability to understand everything God is doing.

First Corinthians 13:12 says, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” We only see part of the picture God is painting. If we are to truly trust Him, we have to let go of our pride, our programs, and our plans. Even the best-laid human plans cannot begin to approach the magnificent sagacity of God’s plan. “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom” (1 Corinthians 1:25).

Most of us have a desperate desire to understand, but in so many areas we must acknowledge that we cannot understand. We must approve of God’s ways, even when we can’t comprehend them. Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us why we often don’t understand what God is doing: “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'” God sees the whole picture, while we only see our tiny corner of it. To trust in the Lord with all our heart means we can’t place our own right to understand above His right to direct our lives the way He sees fit. When we insist on God always making sense to our finite minds, we are setting ourselves up for spiritual trouble.

Our limited understanding can easily lead us astray. Proverbs 16:25 says, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” When we choose to direct our lives according to what seems right to us, we often reap disaster (Judges 21:25). Every culture has tried to get God to approve of its definition of right and wrong, but God never changes and His standards never change (Numbers 23:19; James 1:17; Romans 11:29). Every person must make a decision whether to live his or her life according to personal preference or according to the unchanging Word of God. We often will not understand how God is causing “all things to work together for good” (Romans 8:28), but when we trust Him with all our hearts, we know that He is. He will never fail us (Psalm 119:142; Philippians 2:13).

Author: King Solomon is the principal writer of Proverbs.  Solomon’s name appears in 1:1, 10:1, and 25:1. We may also presume Solomon  collected and edited proverbs other than his own, for Ecclesiastes 12:9 says, “Not only was the Teacher wise, but also he imparted knowledge to the  people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs.” Indeed,  the Hebrew title Mishle Shelomoh is translated “Proverbs of  Solomon.”

Date of Writing: Solomon’s proverbs were  penned around 900 B.C. During his reign as king, the nation of Israel reached  its pinnacle spiritually, politically, culturally, and economically. As Israel’s  reputation soared, so did King Solomon’s. Foreign dignitaries from the far  reaches of the known world traveled great distances to hear the wise monarch  speak (1 Kings  4:34).

Purpose of Writing: Knowledge is nothing more  than an accumulation of raw facts, but wisdom is the ability to see people,  events, and situations as God sees them. In the Book of Proverbs, Solomon  reveals the mind of God in matters high and lofty and in common, ordinary,  everyday situations, too. It appears that no topic escaped King Solomon’s  attention. Matters pertaining to personal conduct, sexual relations, business,  wealth, charity, ambition, discipline, debt, child-rearing, character, alcohol,  politics, revenge, and godliness are among the many topics covered in this rich  collection of wise sayings.

Key Verses: Proverbs 1:5, “Let the wise  listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get  guidance.”

Proverbs  1:7, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise  wisdom and discipline.”

Proverbs  4:5, “Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from  them.”

Proverbs  8:13-14, “To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil  behavior and perverse speech. Counsel and sound judgment are mine; I have  understanding and power.”

Brief Summary: Summarizing  the Book of Proverbs is a bit difficult, for unlike many other books of  Scripture, there is no particular plot or storyline found in its pages;  likewise, there are no principal characters in the book. It is wisdom that takes  center stage—a grand, divine wisdom that transcends the whole of history,  peoples, and cultures. Even a perfunctory reading of this magnificent treasury  reveals the pithy sayings of the wise King Solomon are as relevant today as they  were some three thousand years ago.

Foreshadowings: The  theme of wisdom and its necessity in our lives finds its fulfillment in Christ.  We are continually exhorted in Proverbs to seek wisdom, get wisdom, and  understand wisdom. Proverbs also tells us—and repeats it— that the fear of the  Lord is the beginning of wisdom (1:7; 9:10). Our fear of the Lord’s wrath and  justice is what drives us to Christ, who is the embodiment of God’s wisdom as  expressed in His glorious plan of redemption for mankind. In Christ, “in whom  are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3), we find  the answer to our search for wisdom, the remedy for our fear of God, and the  “righteousness, holiness and redemption” that we so desperately need (1 Corinthians 1:30).  The wisdom that is found only in Christ is in contrast to the foolishness of the  world which encourages us to be wise in our own eyes.  But Proverbs also tells  us that the world’s way is not God’s way (Proverbs  3:7) and leads only to death (Proverbs  14:12; 16:25).

Practical Application: There is an undeniable practicality found in this book, for sound and sensible  answers to all manner of complex difficulties are found within its thirty-one  chapters. Certainly, Proverbs is the greatest “how-to” book ever written, and  those who have the good sense to take Solomon’s lessons to heart will quickly  discover godliness, prosperity, and contentment are theirs for the  asking.

The recurring promise of the Book of Proverbs is that those who  choose wisdom and follow God will be blessed in numerous ways: with long life  (9:11); prosperity (2:20-22); joy (3:13-18); and the goodness of God (12:21).  Those who reject Him, on the other hand, suffer shame and death (3:35; 10:21).  To reject God is to choose folly over wisdom and is to separate ourselves from  God, His Word, His wisdom and His blessings.