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Wisdom of the Ages

A colleague in ministry and I recently had a conversation about the Book of Proverbs. To make a long discussion short, neither of us are quite sure what to do with it. I'm particularly committed to preaching from every book in the Bible at least once, but I don't know how to preach the bulk of Proverbs. Few chapters offer unifying themes; mostly it's a verse or two about this, another verse or two about that, and the ones following about something else entirely. It reads more like Chinese wisdom literature such as the Tao Te Ching than it does the rest of the Bible.

Yet it's Scripture, and that means it's inspired by God and useful for teaching (2 Timothy 3:16). So how do we approach it? One way would be to organize similar proverbs together: ones on wisdom, duty, happiness, etc. together in one place for study. We can also use its sayings in support of other biblical teachings. For example, the Ten Commandments teaches us to honor our parents, and Proverbs has a lot to offer on the relationship between parents and children. Indeed, Proverbs has a unique way of speaking to any and every situation, perhaps precisely because it takes a more gnomic rather than narrative approach.

I don't want to go down this rabbit hole too much, but much has been written about the connection between Jesus, the Word of God, and the wisdom offered by Proverbs (ch. 8). It should be safe to say, however, that all wisdom is from God, for all truth belongs to the One who is truth (John 14:6). That truth guides us into a deeper relationship with God and better relationships with each other.

That's pretty wise.

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