I won’t be blogging much in our #proverbstogether study, but I thought it might be helpful to give a little bit of context, purpose and theme of the book of Proverbs. These facets of any book are essential to our understanding.
The context of the book is the time period of King Solomon’s reign. Many of you may remember Solomon’s request from the Lord at the beginning of his kingship. He asked not for long life or wealth or the death of his enemies, but for wisdom and discernment (1 Kings 3). God was pleased by this – (something we may learn from) and blessed Solomon beyond his request.
Many believe King Solomon wrote Proverbs in the middle of his life. It was during Solomon’s reign that he had the incredible privilege to build the temple of God. Peace was prevalent during his kingship.
The first chapter of Proverbs details the theme and purpose of the book:
“To know wisdom and instruction,
to understand words of insight,
to receive instruction in wise dealing,
in righteousness, justice, and equity;
to give prudence for the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the youth---
Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
And the one who understands obtain guidance,
to understand a proverb and a saying,
the words of the wise and their riddles.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.” v. 2-7
This book is clear in its intention – to impart wisdom, knowledge, and insight that work out in our daily living. But something vastly important is the certain use of the name of God, “LORD” – this name is the covenant name of God, one that He gave to Moses in Exodus 3, and it implies that the original readers of Proverbs are those who were in a covenant relationship with God. This will be important for us as we study because many proverbs will be practical and straightforward in nature. But if these proverbs are detached from a relationship with God, they will not bring about the life they promise or predict. True wisdom begins with a proper relationship with Him.
I love what I have been learning about the fear of the LORD and how this verse and theme enlightens this complex truth a bit more. The fear of the LORD can be considered on a continuum from dread to worship. Those who have no redeemed relationship with our God, when faced with the reality of their sin in the presence of His holiness (or without sin) experience a proper fear. They cannot measure up to His perfection or even stand to plead their case. This is the beginning of relating rightly to our God. Unless we have confessed our sin and our inability to ever be perfect and placed our faith in Jesus Christ – the only perfect One – to save us, we will continue to live in slavery and miss out on LIFE as it’s meant to be lived. When this fear sets in, the gospel becomes our only hope!
It is then that we begin to experience a freeing fear of the LORD. One that compels us to worship our God, the One who loves us and wants a relationship with us. He sent His Son to take our place and pay the penalty that we deserve. This should fill our hearts with humility, gladness, and assurance. He desires to give us the blessings of living a life in restored relationship with Him and walking in His perfect ways. And the book of Proverbs spells out many of these ways and these blessings. What grace!
And finally, some extra information!
“Most biblical proverbs express general principles of life that prove true in most cases.” – Dr. Moseley – this is great to keep in mind as we follow these proverbs in obedience to honor our Lord and know Him more, not just to receive His blessing.
Chapters 1-9 – “instruction literature”
Chapters 10-31:31 – “sentence literature”
Sentence literature is typically comprised of 2-line sayings. These range from theological assertions, statement of facts, comparison, metaphor, description, prediction or promise. I’m really excited to see where the Lord teaches us individually in the last section of sentence literature (because I’m sure most of it will be at different places) and empowers us to share with each other!
I pray this is helpful in our study of Proverbs this month!