I truly appreciate the beauty and simplicity of the book of Proverbs. It has been a favorite of mine for many years. Yet, I should admit that it has also been a challenge to understand. For many years I struggled to understand the overall theme or structure of the book. Numerous times I would read the book and it felt like a random collection of one-liners and short saying that had no real connection to each other. I am hopeful that I am not the only one who has felt this way.
I think many of us could benefit from thoroughly reading and contemplating this great book about God’s wisdom for life.
The book of Proverbs is special because it is a book all about the wisdom of God for life. Just as importantly, it is God’s wisdom that has been shared with us for the purpose of blessing our lives. Repeatedly, the book encourages us to adopt wisdom, to chase after her, and value her above all other things in our life. Solomon says in the first seven verses that the point is to know wisdom, instruction, and words of insight; to give prudence to the simple and direction for the young person’s life (Prov. 1:1-7).
A beautiful truth found throughout the book is that God, our heavenly Father, wants us to succeed in this life and has shared his truths for that purpose. Just as important is how living by His wisdom will bless our relationship with Him.
Repeatedly, the book reminds us that God has ordained and revealed to us an inseparable connection between what we do and what we get in this life. It was Paul (Gal. 6:6-8) who said that God is not mocked, not fooled, nor tricked. The very things we do in this life, the choices we make, will determine what we get in this life and in the life to come. Proverbs teaches us that our choices to walk by Gods wisdom will be what changes this life and our eternity for the better.
The word “way” stands as a metaphor for this idea and occurs seventy-five times in the entire book. It occurs around thirty times in just the first nine chapters. Each time the word “way” is used it reminds us that we are all traveling down a road that leads to a destination based on our choices. The wise are on the way that leads to life (Prov. 2:20-21); fools (those who reject God’s wisdom) are also on a road but this is a “way” that leads to death (Prov. 1:15-19).
Another key idea in the book of Proverbs is about establishing and maintaining a proper relationship with our God. Genesis 4 tells us that death is as much about the death of our relationship with God as it is our physical death. Cain expresses the pain and sorrow of being driven from God’s presence (Gen. 4:14) and becoming a wander (Nod) and fugitive in this life. God’s wisdom is concerned with helping us live and make choices that will remedy this problem not make it worse. Proverbs, God’s wisdom, seeks to bring us from our wandering and establish us in a place where the relationship can be restored. It gives us careful and intentional instructions on how to live in such a way that God will bless us in this life.
The book of Proverbs is a practical book meant to direct us to our God, the source of life. Let’s make sure we heed the call of wisdom and embrace the life God intends for us.
“She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed.” (Proverbs 3:18, ESV)