The book of Proverbs – challenging, encouraging, instructing. It teaches us wisdom, discipline, and moral choices. I love the book of Proverbs. I’ve read it more times than I recall, and I believe it would change the world if everyone would read it and try to apply it to life. Regardless of spiritual or moral beliefs, or age or gender or race, everyone can learn from Proverbs. No matter where we are on our journey there’s something we can learn from Proverbs, and even if we’ve read it multiple times there’s always something that stands out to us differently than the time before. If we’re applying what we’re learning then we’re growing, and as we grow we change and see things with a different level of wisdom, discipline, and maturity.
As I read through Proverbs again a few months ago I made some notes and highlights of things I thought I’d share here.
IF/THEN but Jesus
In our high tech world there is logical programming all around us. It reminds me of the first simple computer program I wrote in a high school class teaching us how computer logic works. It involved some very basic IF/THEN logic. IF”X” happens, THEN”Y” happens next. There could also be and OR added to the logic making it IF/THEN/OR, so IF “X” didn’t happen, “Z” could happen instead of “Y”. The X,Y,Z could be whatever we told the computer it should do.
As I read through Proverbs this past time I seemed to see a lot of the wise instructions and warnings as IF/THEN/OR statements. A great example of this is Proverbs chapter 2 (NIV). Read it and notice the IF’s in v1-4. Now notice the THEN’s in v5-9. There’s even an OR at the end of the chapter (v22). There are warnings about wicked men and adulterous women in the middle, but from beginning to end we could summarize Proverbs 2 with this IF/THEN/OR statement of logic. “IF you accept, apply, value wisdom; THEN you will find knowledge of God, blessing, and protection; OR you will be cut off and torn from the land.”
Look for places where IF/THEN/OR can be applied to what the scriptures are saying. Proverbs 3:3-4, IF you commit to love and faithfulness, THEN you will win favor. Proverbs 3:5-6, IF you trust in the Lord, THEN he will make your paths straight. I don’t want to completely dumb down the scriptures to computer logic, as though I’m a robot, but I must say that looking at it this way is a new way to engage myself with the instruction it offers and commit it to the choices I make.
Before I move on to my next observation I want to point out that none of the IF/THEN statements remove God’s love for us or Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. Also, none of them are standards or behaviors that can save us from our own sins. But ALL of them are truths, that either draw us closer to God or push us further from Him. They move us along His path or down other deceitful and destructive paths. The most important IF/THEN in the bible is, “IF we accept Jesus as Lord, THEN we will have eternal life.”
God is Wisdom
Wisdom comes from God. It is the foundation on which all life is built. It is His first creation before all other creation. God IS wisdom. (Proverbs 8:22-31)
Wisdom comes with time and experience, so it makes sense that it was with God, and is God, since the beginning of time. Wisdom with God the father, son & holy spirit should be a constant desire in our pursuit of Jesus if we really believe in Him and want to follow Him and serve Him.
Gaining wisdom is knowing God.
As we know and understand God more and more during our pursuit of wisdom we learn the characteristics of God and wisdom that should be exemplified in our lives. Here are some that I made note of as I read Proverbs in recent months along with the chapter/verse that brought these to mind:
- Wisdom is humbling – 1:22-33
- Wisdom is discernment – 2:9-11
- Wisdom is obedient – 3:9-10
- Wisdom is discipline / self control – 5:23
- Wisdom is listening / speaking wisely – throughout the book of Proverbs, but especially noticed these instructions in chapter 10.
- Wisdom is righteousness – 11:8
- Wisdom is protection – throughout, but 13:6 stood out
- Wisdom is contagious – 13:20
- Wisdom is rewarding – 13:21
- Wisdom is content – 13:25
- Wisdom is patient – 14:29
- Wisdom is generous – 14:31
- Wisdom is planning – 16:3
- Wisdom is action – 16:9
- Wisdom is honest – 16:11
- Wisdom rules – 16:14-15
- Wisdom is invaluable – 16:16
- Wisdom is just/fair – 21:12-15
This list could go on and on, and I look forward to future readings where I recognize more wisdom nuggets throughout the book of Proverbs. The point of this list is to recognize that God is the epitome, he sets the standard, for all of those things. To pursue God is to pursue wisdom, and vice versa. The purpose of Proverbs is to teach us to pursue God by pursuing who He is, His character, to be drawn closer to Him, and continue to become who he created us to be, made in His image.
I have so many more specific things I’d love to share from Proverbs, so look forward to those on future posts.