What is a Proverb?
A proverb (Hebrew masal) is a poetic, terse, vivid, thought-provoking saying that conveys a world of truth in a few words. Modern people do not have a category for proverbs. They are neither absolute commands nor promises, and often they are partial. That is, they need to be put beside other proverbs on the same subject to get the full picture. They are observations about how life works. The point of a proverb, then, is to get rightly related to reality through hard thinking and sustained reflection. A proverb is like hard candy: If you just bite down on it, you get little out of it and may even get a broken tooth. Instead you must meditate on it until the sweetness of insight comes.
Wisdom is not only for “deep thinkers.” It is how you get through daily life. It helps you know what to do when your child comes home from school with a black eye, or when you suddenly come into unexpected money, or when you lose your job. What do you do that won’t make things worse? Our wisdom will guide us as we grow in the knowledge and image of his Son, Jesus, who is Wisdom itself.
In what area of life do you most need to grow in wisdom?
Prayer: Lord, I’d prefer if you would simply tell me what to do through some inner voice or some book of specific rules for every situation. Instead I hear you calling me to grow into a wise person who discerns what to do. Help me to answer that call, and give me understanding. Amen.
Excerpt from God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Book of Proverbs by Timothy Keller and Kathy Keller
Reprinted by arrangement with Viking Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © 2017 by Timothy and Kathy Keller