One of the first questions one must ask before beginning a study of any book of the Bible is, “What is its purpose?” Fortunately, that answer is very clear in Proverbs. Five of the first six verses begin with an infinitive (to know, to discern, to receive, to give, and to understand). The purpose of the book is clearly for instruction. But what is being taught? That answer is also very clear. Proverbs is primarily written by Solomon, the wisest person who has ever lived, and he is passing on that wisdom to you and me. The words wise or wisdom are used at least 125 times in Proverbs. But what is wisdom, and what does Solomon want to communicate about it?
In Proverbs, wisdom does three things. First, wisdom teaches. According to Proverbs 1:3, when we follow the instruction that wisdom teaches, we will learn to do what is right, just, and fair. If you are a fan of Twitter or single sentence quote graphics on Instagram, you will love Proverbs. It is full of pithy statements upon which you can meditate. Here are a few examples:
Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. Proverbs 27:17
Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Proverbs 31:30
Second, wisdom corrects. Proverbs teaches us what we should do, but it also teaches us what we should not do. Everyone makes mistakes. It is how you respond to correction that shows the level of your character. It has been said that a mistake is the first step to success. A more accurate truth is that a correction to a mistake is the first step to success. Here are a few examples of how wisdom corrects.
For the commandment is a lamp, and the law a light; reproofs of instruction are the way of life. Proverbs 6:23
Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid. Proverbs 12:1
He who disdains instruction despises his own soul, but he who heeds rebuke gets understanding. Proverbs 15:32
Third, wisdom seeks to bring her listener into a relationship with God. The key verse in the entire book is Proverbs 1:7, which states, “The fear of the Lord is beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” The phrase “fear of the Lord” can be found at least 18 times in the book of Proverbs. To fear the Lord means we acknowledge that He is Creator, and we are His creation; He is Father, and we are His children; He is the Master, and we are His servants. Not only must one acknowledge these facts, but one must live as if they believe them. If we jump to the New Testament, we learn more specifically that wisdom is found in the person of Jesus Christ. Colossians 2:3 states that in Him “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
As you go through this devotional through the book of Proverbs, may you grow in wisdom. That is in instruction, correction, and a deeper love for Jesus Christ.
1. What can you do to prepare yourself to grow in wisdom as you study the book of Proverbs? When and where will you complete this devotional?
2. How do you respond to correction? What can you do now to prepare your heart not only to learn but to be corrected?
3. How is your relationship with Jesus Christ? If you are a follower of Christ, commit now to focus on growing closer to Him over the next 31 days. If you're not, learn more by visiting the reflective questions on the last day of this study.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7
Dear God, thank you for Your Word! Help me over the next 31 days to learn more and grow closer to You.