Thoughts On Proverbs
Right now, I am studying through the book of Proverbs with a friend. I knew that I loved the book going into the study but now I have to say that I love it even more. My reasons for this are pretty simple and listed below.
- We are all treated like children when we approach the book of Proverbs. I love how even from the beginning of the book there is this common idea that we are the child that's being schooled by loving parents. The other day I was telling my oldest son (he's three by the way) that he needed to look where he was going. He didn't listen or heed my words and ended up tripping over a concrete step and falling to the ground. As I helped him up I thought he should have listened to me and saved himself from getting hurt. We are just like my son. We are on the verge of getting hurt, need to be told what to do and what not to do, and most likely going to get hurt because we have to learn the hard way. The book of Proverbs wants us to learn from trusted advisors instead of learning the lesson when we get hurt. Go read Proverbs 1:8-10 and see what I'm talking about.
- Proverbs personifies wisdom and folly. Personification is when we take something that isn't human and pretend that it is. In the case of Proverbs 1:20-21 starts things off with the beautiful woman wisdom calling out in the streets for anyone to come to her. She promises to provide what we want and to supply it in such a way that we will not run out. Proverbs 2:6-8 reminds us that wisdom is not really a beautiful woman. It's actually a gift that comes from God's character. Our God is a wise God and he gives wisdom to those who seek after him. Proverbs 4:6-7 slips back into the personified version of wisdom to remind the reader that we who love God are to lean on wisdom and seek more whenever it can be found. Proverbs 9:13-18 we see folly most clearly personified as a woman. Before this passage, there have been many passages that refer to the "forbidden woman." These earlier passages can be taken at face value, encouraging the believer to not participate in adultery, but I tend to see these passages as other references to personified foolishness. Both are to be avoided at all costs, Both lead to death and destruction. Both are held in parallel to personified wisdom. That is just my particular take on these passages, but I like reading about wisdom and foolishness being made into living, walking, and talking human beings.
- Proverbs has more than a few iconic passages. You won't find, "Cleanliness is next to godliness," in the book of Proverbs (or the rest of the Bible for that matter). However, you will find great passages such as Proverbs 1:7, Proverbs 2:1-5, Proverbs 3:5-6, Proverbs 6:10-11, Proverbs 9:10, Proverbs 10:27, Proverbs 16:8, and Proverbs 22:6. Just go read the book. Proverbs is packed full of amazing passages. Just remember that the genre of Proverbs dictates that these passages are to be understood as guiding principles and promises.