Appendix

What About Proverbs?

The book of Proverbs presents a different problem. We must be careful not to assume the book contains God’s individual promises to us. The proverbs are promises in the broad sense that they describe how God rewards those who fear him and live wisely, and how he opposes those who disregard him and live foolishly.

We can run into problems if we do not interpret the proverbs within the larger context of Old Testament wisdom writings and in light of all biblical truth. The proverbs offer practical wisdom about the effects of our actions. For example, a person who lives a life of violence can expect to be a victim of violence (proverbs 1:18–19). Ignoring the wisdom of the proverbs will likely lead to a shortened, problem-filled life (proverbs 1:19–33) instead of a life that enjoys the favor of God (proverbs 2:1–8). Every proverb, though, should not be understood as a promise of here-and-now results.

Many verses in Proverbs seem to promise wealth, health, safety, and happiness to those who follow the path of wisdom (proverbs 3); or that the righteous person will not go hungry (proverbs 10:3) and will be untouched by trouble (proverbs 19:23). No one would deny that these proverbs do reflect the general principles of how God has designed life to operate—we reap what we sow. But life is not always so predictable, as the experiences of Job, David, Solomon, Paul, and other Bible characters demonstrate. In many cases, God has something better in store for a person than immediate blessings; such people are laying up treasure in heaven. The proverbs, therefore, provide down-to-earth principles for everyday life. The person who wants to be wise and enjoy God’s favor will read Proverbs and put its God-fearing instruction into practice.

 


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  • 11/13/18

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