“The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction, to discern the sayings of understanding, to receive instruction in wise behavior, righteousness, justice and equity; to give prudence to the naive, to the youth knowledge and discretion, a wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel, to understand a proverb and a figure, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” – Proverbs 1:1-7 NASB
Over the next seven weeks we’ll be wading deep into the book of Proverbs. We’ll look at several themes dealt with throughout the book. For example, we will learn what the Proverbs say about pride and humility, about righteousness, about purity and truthfulness. We’ll learn about decisions and diligence in those decisions. We’ll wrap it all up with generosity as well as friendship and parenting with kindness.
In this week’s posts, however, it will be all about the purpose of the proverbs. What are these sayings for? How are we to use them? We’ll also look at authorship, which will bring into the discussion important ideas concerning the inspiration of the Biblical text.
That will lead us into asking, “how does inspiration work?” Then, while we’re at it, we’ll combat one of the more mystical views of inspiration out there—the idea that Scripture came as some kind of spiritual download.
We’ll also learn the difference between a proverb and a promise—this is a vital difference. So often people read the proverbs as promises when they’re not promises at all. The ramifications of this approach are numerous and they can be detrimental to an individual’s faith. I’ll be sharing several examples of how the proverbs simply cannot always be understood as if/then statements. But I’ll also show how they are so much more when rightly understood.
Everything we learn today will serve as the filter through which we see everything else—that is the next six weeks. This in my estimation is truly practical. It seems people often think practical means physical action steps or behaviors that they can employ, and this is partially true. But providing people with a correct way of interpreting and/or viewing a thing is also deeply practical. These are the “teach a man to fish” kinds of things. The ideas we’ll learn today will help us see the Bible rightly.We often think practical means physical action steps we can employ. This is partially true. But providing ourselves with a correct interpretation or view is also deeply practical. #Proverbs Click To Tweet
Purpose of Proverbs
So as we begin I want to explain the purpose of wisdom itself. I think we can all see that the proverbs are intended to communicate wisdom, which we just read in verse 2. “To know wisdom and instruction.” But why wisdom? That’s a question we must answer. The proverbs communicate wisdom, but we need to understand why that matters. Can’t we just go through life any old way we choose? Can’t we just meander our way into eternity?
The answer to this is no and it’s because wisdom is deeply connected with sanctification. When we think about the process we’re undergoing to rightly reflect the image of God, we know that what the Bible says is true—we’ve all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Sanctification is the process by which we are being remade for our original purpose—to reflect the glory of God into the world.
One of the lessons we learn from Adam and Eve in the garden is that they had a God-given responsibility to reflect His image into the world through ruling and reigning over the earth. When we really see Eden for what it was, we begin to understand that it represented the temple of God.One of the lessons we learn from Adam and Eve in the garden is that they had a God-given responsibility to reflect His image into the world through ruling and reigning over the earth. Click To Tweet
Temple of God
Temple language is all throughout the creation account. The purpose in ancient literature for any temple was that of a dwelling place for a particular deity and Eden was YHWH’s dwelling place. This is the plan of restoration as well. The Genesis account and the consequent fall of humanity are remedied in Revelation when God creates a new heaven and a new earth. He establishes a new Jerusalem and a new temple, constructed of His people. It’s in this temple that He intends to dwell. Again, that’s what He intended in Eden and that’s what He will do in the new Jerusalem.
From the original temple, mankind was tasked with going out into the world and subduing it. For us this is like coming together as Christ’s body, spending time in his presence as he rests in us, his temple, and then going out into the world to reflect his glory. For Adam and Eve this required being fruitful and multiplying, which seems to be the only mandate humanity ran with. Of course we perverted that too. But the point is that humanity was to go into all the world and reflect the image of the God who dwelt within the temple.
My girls have all of these glow-in-the-dark magnet blocks. You let them soak up the light and then take them into a dark place and they light it up. This is us in the world. We spend time in the presence of God and then go out and rule.
And this is where our story and the story of Adam overlap, where we start to understand the need for wisdom. Whether in our fallen condition or in Adam’s original state, we were—and are—in need of training. Although Adam had not sinned, he was being taught by God at every turn. Whether that was through the mandate to name animals or the mandate to subdue land, Adam was walking with God and being taught by Him.
The world was not created perfect the way we think of perfect. Perfect to us means everything is in its place. This imagines a world where Adam and Eve simply needed to hit the button on the assembly line every once in a while to maintain normal operations—but God didn’t create a factory. Instead God created a world that was wild—and it was wild on purpose. Not sinful, but wild. This was wild for the purpose that God’s image bearers could rule and reign and subdue. After all God Himself began with something that was formless and void. He could have just made it “perfect” at the outset. As a result of this subduing Adam and Eve would be shaped and molded along the way.The world was not created perfect the way we think of perfect. Perfect to us means everything is in its place. Instead, God created a world that was wild. Click To Tweet
But, as we know, our sin tainted us and consequently prevented our communion with God. This is why the temple was effectively shut down. Eden was removed or hidden. The tree of life was taken from us. Humanity was cast out and prevented from communing with its King. This will later be partially restored through a priesthood and then ultimately restored through King Jesus, our high priest who forever stands both as the tree of life and the arbiter between us and the Father.
In the next post, we will take a look at God’s plan to restore us to our intended place as his image bearers. Have you considered your responsibility to reflect God’s image into the world? How does coming together as the body of Christ help you accomplish this. Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.