The Book of Proverbs contains many valuable lessons for the believer. What are 5 of the greatest lessons we can glean from the wisdom literature.
The Beginning of Wisdom
Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
The very beginning of wisdom is not necessarily Bible study, hearing sermons, or attending Sunday school but fearing the Lord. This fear is not the kind of fear of being struck dead but one of reverential fear, respect, deep admiration, and awe of the glory of God for all wisdom comes from God. He is the ultimate source of all wisdom. If you want to have wisdom, you must fear the Lord and to have this fear you must continually abide in His Word, the Bible. We cannot fear what we do not know and the more we know about God the more we learn to fear Him. To despise wisdom and be a fool is to not fear the Lord. Where there is no fear there is no wisdom.
Lean not on your own Understanding
Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
If you want to see how things go wrong then look at some of the Bible verses in the Old Testament where it was written that “every man did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6, 21:25). When mankind, just like Israel did, leaned on their own understanding they were sure to fall. The idea of trusting in God is trusting in what He says and what He says often is contrary to what humans believe. The history of the nation of Israel shows time and again the results of their leaning on their own understanding. When we lean on our own ideas then we are showing a lack of trust in God. Lean on God for if we lean on our own understanding, we are going to fall and fall hard.
What Appears Right Leads to Death
Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”
This is close to Proverbs 3:5 because what we think is right to us (leaning on our own understanding) ends up leading to death and Solomon could be talking about an eventual eternal death. When you need to make an important decision, this is the time to get godly counsel and seek the advice of other Christians because “iron sharpens iron” (Prov 27:17) but mostly, you will know what is right if you are in the Word of God every day. The greatest way to build discernment is to read the Word of God for it has the power to discern what the best path to take is. This is because God’s “word is a lamp to [our] feet, and a light to [our] path” (Psalm 119:105) and if our path is given light we are less likely to stumble. Dark paths lead to death but what is right and given light leads to life.
The Protection of the Word
Proverbs 30:5 “Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.”
The main point here is that every single word of God is flawless. It is perfect. It is so perfect that it shields us from a lot of harm we would otherwise incur. We can also take refuge in His Word for His Word has power. There is zero chance of reading a part of the Word of God that is not perfect and it is always perfectly good for us. This is what David knew and why he wrote “The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7). There is every chance that my words are imperfect but no chance of God’s Word being imperfect. His Word is like the old word document program: Word Perfect. I occasionally tell the congregation that “Part of my sermon today will be perfect! That is the part where I read out of the Bible!”
Committing Your Plans to the Lord
Proverbs 16:3 “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.”
I know of someone who fully trusted in God enough to take a risk but they were seeking to do it for God’s glory and since we know that God seeks to have us glorify Him, the Lord established this man’s plans.” The key point is that if we commit our plans to His glory, for His purpose, and seeking to do His will, then God will “establish your plans.” God’s promises are sure and if you are seeking to glorify God in your plans, you can be certain that He will establish those plans. God’s will is to have us glorify Him in our words, our deeds, and in our thoughts and if we are committed to glorifying God then we knew that we must be truly committed to Him. We have already learned that “man plans their course, but [it is] the LORD [who] establishes their steps” (Prov 16:9) and He will establish your steps in your plans but only if you are committed to Him.
There is just so much wisdom in the Book of Proverbs. I don’t think it’s just a coincidence that there are thirty one chapters in this book. One of my friends reads one chapter for each day of the month. After a year or so, these proverbs began to become part of his thinking and the effect of that is that he gained godly wisdom, day by day. For him it was the beginning of wisdom because he learned to fear the Lord; he learned to not lean on his own understanding because he trusted in God; he understood that what seemed right could lead to death; so he has a daily intake of God’s perfect Word so that he knows that he can commit his plans to God and can rest in the fact that God will establish his plans. If you haven’t repented, confessed your sins, and put your trust in God, that is the most foolish thing that you have ever done because we already know that “fools despise wisdom and instruction” but “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov 1:7) because without Christ in your life, you have every reason to fear (Rev 20:11-15; Dan 12:2).
Another Reading on Patheos to Check Out: What Did Jesus Really Look Like: A Look at the Bible Facts
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon