Fearing the Lord is the beginning of moral knowledge (Proverbs 1:7).
The five Books of Poetry bridge the past of the seventeen Books of History with the future of the seventeen Books of Prophecy. One-third of the Hebrew Bible was written in poetry. The five Poetical Books deal with the present experience of the authors in ways that speak to the experiential present of believers of all time. Though they come from an ancient culture they are timeless in their application. They do not advance the timeline of the nation Israel. The poetry erupts from the hearts of God’s people going through some of the eras and experiences documented in the Books of History.
Have you ever learned a lesson the hard way? For many of life’s lessons the hard way is the only way, but a lot of the wrecks we encounter through the years could be avoided with a little wisdom.
What if I told you that I knew of a book that held treasures of wisdom designed by God to teach you to live skillfully? What if I went on to explain that this isn’t a large book, that you could read it in one sitting, and that it contained over 900 inspired precepts—timeless teaching for everyday living?
Would you hurry to your bookstore or navigate to amazon.com and purchase this amazing book that has the potential to teach you how to live so that you don’t have to learn all your lessons the hard way?
This book exists, but you don’t need to spend any money to buy it…if you already own a Bible! One of the most practical books in the Old Testament is Proverbs—a collection of short, pithy statements of inspired truth and wisdom. Proverbs deals with wisdom and stupidity, justice and revenge, diligence and laziness, poverty and wealth, bosses and employees, life and death. These maxims give us God’s principles for godly living.
It takes only a few seconds to read one of God’s proverbs, but the dedicated Christian will spend a lifetime living out the implications of that truth. Not surprisingly, skillful living begins with your attitude toward God:
To fear God is to relate your entire world to Him as you stand in awe of Him, and determine to trust Him by humbly depending on Him as you do what He says.
I. Proverbs is one of only a few books of your Bible that spells out its purpose.
A. Title: Proverbs is a collection of five separate books of proverbs. Verse 1 introduces the entire book and chapters 1-9 in particular. A proverb is a “truth tested by time” (von Rad, Wisdom in Israel, p. 74). But the Hebrew book of Proverbs contains the truths tested by time in Israel’s experience with the Living God. (1:1)
B. Purpose: Proverbs teaches the foundational skill of life—how to live before God and others in practical righteousness. The two purposes of the book move the reader toward this life…
1. By providing moral judgment and sensitivity (1:2a, 3-4).
2. By providing mental clarity and insight (1:2b, 5-6)
C. Theme: The key statement for Proverbs is the key statement for all the wisdom literature and for skillful living.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of moral knowledge. (1:7)
1. “Fear of the Lord” is “not only a correct way of thinking about God but a correct relationship with Yahweh. It is an affectionate reverence that results in humbly bowing to the Father’s will. It is a desire not to sin against Him because His wrath is so awful and His love is so awesome.” (Dr. Tom Constable, Proverbs, p 8).
2. “Beginning” views fear of the Lord not only as the starting point but the controlling principle of knowledge. “What the alphabet is to reading, notes to reading music, and numerals to mathematics, the fear of the Lord is to attaining the revealed knowledge of this book.” (Waltke, Proverbs, p. 181)
3. “Knowledge” is not just a collection of facts in the brain. This knowledge is the knowledge of truth from the objective perspective of God as He has revealed it in His revelation.
II. The Proverbs will teach you how to live skillfully, how to avoid learning some lessons the hard way if…
A. If the controlling principle of your life is your fear of the Lord—your correct thinking about Him and your correct relationship with Him.
1. Is He the One you stand in awe of every day?
2. Is He the One you bow to in obedience every day?
3. Is He the One you know personally because you have believed in His Son, Jesus Christ?
4. Is He the One you know better every day as you walk with His Son, Jesus Christ?
B. If you connect wisdom and instruction in your everyday life. The releasing principle of your life is connecting wisdom and instruction. (v 2)
1. Wisdom means “skill” and “instruction” means discipline.
2. Skill in life grows as our knowledge of God and His Word comes under the control of His Spirit to unleash His creative purposes for our lives.
C. If you read it!
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
T. S. Eliot