Have We Misunderstood The Proverbs?
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (1:7)
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. (3:5)
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. (14:12)
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. (22:6)
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. (27:17)
An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. (31:10)
Did you notice I only included the chapter and verse for those Scripture passages and not the book by name? That’s because I assume 100% of you would accurately know that each of those verses comes from the book of…
You guessed it – Proverbs!
I cherish each and every one of those Proverbs. But I have a confession to make. For much of my life and ministry, I don’t think I understood the Proverbs at all. And I don’t think I’m alone.
In fact, I would propose that the book of Proverbs is one of the most referenced portions of the Word of God, yet perhaps one of the least understood portions of Scripture.
In my experience, most Christians interpret the Proverbs as these isolated, individual nuggets of wisdom; they’re not really connected to anything else. It’s as if God dropped hundreds upon hundreds of precious tiny diamonds of wisdom down into a pile for us, and we can pick away at them, hoping to find something helpful and applicable for our lives.
(At least, that’s how we typically use them. Think of all the times you’ve heard or seen those above six Proverbs standing on their own.)
There’s something else I’ve noticed: we tend to think of the Proverbs as only living in the ‘now.’ This is true, in one sense. Praise God that his Word has right here, right now application for everyday life! (All of Scripture does, not just the Proverbs).
The way we typically use the Proverbs is only in the ‘now.’ It’s as if they don’t have any past to them or any future to them; they just have ‘present’ application. The gospel message must always have a past, present, and future component. And since the Proverbs display the glorious gospel message, they will too!
Therefore, I want to propose that the Proverbs—all of them, woven together—give us an incredible portrait of everything that the Bible is about and how to live inside that portrait. They’re radically insightful, convicting, encouraging, and hope-giving.
Do you love the Proverbs? Do you want to understand the Proverbs more? Do you want the Proverbs to radically transform your everyday living? Do you want to see Jesus in the Proverbs?
If you answered yes to any of these, then join me as we take this walk through The Gospel: One Proverb At A Time.
Paul David Tripp
1. What is your favorite or most referenced Proverb? How has this Proverb provided you with hope and encouragement in your Christian life?
2. Have you limited your favorite Proverb to just the present? First, go back and read it through the lens of salvation past—the forgiveness of sins. Then go back and read them through the lens of salvation future—the promise of eternity. How does it change your understanding when you view this Proverb with past, present, and future gospel application?
3. Do you see Jesus in the Proverbs? Or have you limited the Proverbs to only a collection of nuggets of wisdom? Why should you look for your glorious Savior embedded in every passage of Scripture you read?
4. Do you struggle to read the Word of God every day? Why might this be? What interferes with this being your top priority of the day?
5. How can you become a better student of the Word of God? What are some practical tools that you can employ to help? Would it be valuable to study the Bible in a community with others? Where else are you investing your time or money to increase your knowledge, education, or skillset?