In the month of February, I will be leading our congregation through a series of messages entitled “Living under the Smile of God” from the Old Testament book of Proverbs. In preparation for this series I encourage you to do two things.
- Read a chapter a day from the book of Proverbs beginning February 1. By March 2 you will be through the entire book. (It will take less than three minutes a day to do this).
- Read the following introduction which should help you in understanding this very practical book called Proverbs.
According to the opening lines of Proverbs the book was written to give “prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young” (1:4), and to make the wise even wiser (1:5). We see this worked out in the book by the Father’s advice to avoid all that is foolish and, conversely, in his counsel to embrace values that enhance life. Finally, it is important to say that “although Proverbs is a practical book dealing with the art of living, it bases its practical wisdom solidly on the fear of the Lord (1:7). Throughout the book reverence for God and reliance on Him are set forth as the path to life, prosperity and security.”
In Proverbs “the reader is exhorted to honesty, integrity, diligence, kindness, generosity, readiness to forgive, truthfulness, patience, humility, cheerfulness, loyalty, temperance, self-control and the prudent consideration of consequences that flow from attitudes, choices and/or actions. Anger is to be held in check, violence and quarrelsomeness shunned, gossip avoided, arrogance repudiated. Drunkenness, gluttony, envy and greed are all to be renounced. The poor are not to be exploited, the courts are not to be unjustly manipulated, legitimate authorities are to be honored. Parents are responsible to care for the proper instruction and discipline of their children, and children are to duly honor their parents and bring no disgrace on them.”1 And yes, all of life is to be lived in conscious awareness of the unfailing scrutiny of the Lord of creation and in reliance on his generous providence.
- Skillful and virtuous living. It’s about following the Lord’s design for all human interactions but above all else it is about having the right attitude toward God.
Fear of the Lord
- A loving reverence for God that includes submission to His Lordship and to the commands of His Word.
Nature of a Proverb
- A Proverb is not a hard and fast promise but rather a Proverb describes what is generally true. For example, normally the righteous prosper (Proverbs 12:21) but sometimes it is the wicked who are prosperous (Psalm 73:3). Normally the righteous and wicked receive their due on earth (Proverbs 11:31), but at other times reward and punishment lie beyond the grave. Yes, a Proverb teaches us how life usually works, not how it always works or must work.
- Most Proverbs are short, compact statements that express truths about human behavior.
- The writers of Proverbs use stories, commands, observations, contrasts, comparisons, and figurative language to teach us how to choose and to live wisely.
- Introductory material as found in the NIV Study Bible and the NIV Application Commentary.