The book of Proverbs is a unique book of the Bible. It is full of wisdom that will help you understand how to live a life for God. Knowing wisdom does not mean you will be wise, but application of wisdom puts you on the path towards wiser living. Proverbs offers future-oriented wisdom and guidance so you can make wise decisions and live in ways that please and exalt God. Hear are some helpful ways to read Proverbs rightly.
How to Read Proverbs Rightly
1. Use Basic Logic. Read according to the plain meaning of the words, limiting your focus to the central point.
2. Don’t read any Proverb in Isolation. Biblical Proverbs are not like fortune cookies. You must not look at individual proverbs as if they stand apart from the rest of the Bible. The Bible interprets itself, and no single verse or passage is self-contained.
3. Don’t Put God on Your Timetable. Many proverbs speak of certain actions drawing certain responses from God: rewards for obedience and punishment or discipline for disobedience. God’s timing is perfect. Thus, punishment or discipline does not always immediately follow sin, and reward does not always immediately follow obedience.
4. Make God the Goal of Your Obedience. At all times, we need to keep in mind the ultimate reason we read Scripture: To know and obey God. The goal of Proverbs is to grow ever closer to the God who is Wisdom. Learn the way of wisdom by watching Jesus.
Jesus lived Wisdom. Jesus personified the Proverbs-driven life. His life on earth demonstrated continual wisdom, even as a young boy [Luke 2:41-52]. Just as He was perfect in every other way, Jesus perfectly lived the wisdom of Proverbs.
Jesus is Wisdom. Jesus embodies and displays the wisdom which is inherent in the being of God, for Jesus is “wisdom from God,” [1 Corinthians 1:30] and the one in whom are “hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” [Colossians 2:3]. To see the perfect representation of the wisdom of God in flesh, look to Jesus [Hebrews 1:3].
Jesus is the Way of Wisdom. Because Jesus is wisdom, God calls us to choose His way rather than the foolish way of the world [1 Corinthians 2:6-8]. The wise man chooses Jesus, and the fool chooses the folly of this world.
Jesus supplies wisdom. Jesus promises to give wisdom to those who hear and receive His words [Luke 21:15]. As we live wisely according to Proverbs, we are living like Christ.
As the one who lived wisdom, the one who is wisdom, the one who is the way of wisdom, and the one who supplies wisdom, Jesus is present in Proverbs in the most profound way. the book of Proverbs will not allow you to be a passive learner, merely soaking up information. Proverbs is the 10-Commandments in shoe leather. Proverbs requires you to put God’s wisdom to work in your life.
Adapted from A Proverbs Driven Life, by Anthony Selvaggio, Shepherd Press, 2008. 17ff