Read the Instructions
Read Proverbs 1:5-7 (ESV)
Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
What does it mean to fear the LORD?
Do you ever wish life came with an instruction manual? Not one focused on theoretical knowledge but one that gives you practical advice for how to live a godly life day in and day out? Well, that’s what the book of Proverbs is! It is a collection of over 900 short adages intended to teach practical wisdom covering numerous aspects of daily life. When reading proverbs, it’s important to remember that these are NOT promises from God or hard, fast rules. But they are timeless truths and general life principles that are easy to memorize and have a real-life application.
Most of the proverbs were written by King Solomon but it is likely that he collected and compiled other proverbs that he knew as well. Remember from 1 Kings that King Solomon had asked God for wisdom and God granted his request. His wisdom was so extraordinary that he would have been perfectly qualified to write the book on wise living.
Chapters 1-9 contain proverbs addressed to “my son.” They are written from the point of view of a father passing wisdom down to his son about life. The big idea is to seek godly wisdom and reject foolishness. Proverbs 2:1-6 says: “My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”
Chapters 10-24 is a collection of 375 of Solomon’s wise sayings. Many of them present contrasting ideas. For example, “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid” (Proverbs 12:1). Others describe a timeless, discernible truth of morality such as “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion” (Proverbs 18:2).
The next section of Proverbs, Chapters 25-29 are also Solomon’s proverbs, but they were compiled by King Hezekiah’s men. Chapters 30 and 31 are written by Agur and King Lemuel respectively but beyond their names, their identities are unknown. Some have suggested that they are nicknames or pen names for Solomon. Others think that these were wise sages or rulers from outside of Israel. King Lemuel’s ode to a noble wife in Proverbs 31:10-31 is very well-known and demonstrates that wise and godly living is not just a pursuit for men. Men and women are intended to live wisely. Proverbs 31 also demonstrates an appreciation and recognition for wives and mothers. And yet, despite all of the excellent things that were credited to the noble wife, the most praiseworthy aspect of her character is her fear of the LORD: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates” (Proverbs 31:29-31).
Friends, that is the heart of the Proverbs—fearing the LORD and seeking to live a life according to His way is wisdom. Rejecting God and His ways is pure folly. If you’ve ever wished for an instruction manual for your life, read the Proverbs! As we read in today’s verse, “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.”
God, thank You for giving us the book of Proverbs. Help me follow Your instruction manual. I know that it’s wise to live life Your way and foolish to reject Your teaching. Give me Your wisdom, Lord. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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