I am really enjoyed reading through the book of Proverbs. I was wondering if you could summarize what you consider to be the most practical teaching from the entire book.
What an intriguing question! I’ve never considered trying to describe the overall teachings of Proverbs in one sitting.
THE WISEST PERSON I EVER KNEW
The wisest man I ever knew was Gary Shrader. We pastored together for almost 50 years. I’ve sat with him through hundreds of meetings with hundreds of people who were expressing all sorts of thoughts and ideas.
Gary would sit silently until everyone had their say. Then, with wisdom and simplicity he shared his thoughts. Time and time again someone in the group would say, “Why didn’t we see that in the first place?”
I hired Gary to be our youth pastor the week after he was graduated seminary. I noticed on his resume that he was valedictorian of his high school. I hired him sight unseen because I believed that anyone who was that smart could handle the job we had! Only later did I learn that there were only 13 students in his graduating class. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for me to realize that we had hired one of the wisest persons that we ever hired.
FOUR EXAMPLES WHY KNOWING PROVERBS IS SO IMPORTANT
Have you ever cut someone off in traffic? And it was all your fault? And the other driver pulled up along side of you and gave you “a piece of his/her mind?
I was driving from Dallas to Ft. Worth four days a week when I attended Seminary. I was always late and always tired.
In a hurry, I pulled out in front of another car. The driver was angry. I was wrong. As we approached a red light I stopped 30 feet back so we would not face each when we stopped short of the line.
He stopped beside me 30 feet back. He rolled down his window to yell at me. I did not want an altercation.
What should I say?
Fortunately, I knew Proverb 15:1:
“A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.” KJV
As our windows rolled down, I spoke first: “I am sorry. I was wrong to cut you off. I was in a hurry and what I did was rude and selfish. Will you forgive me for what I did?”
He was startled. He was taken totally off guard. “Uh, well, O.K. Just don’t do it again.”
One of our counselors came to me with a problem. Two individuals in our church family were fighting and it was messy. They had not asked for his help; but, our counselor was wondering if he should intervene. He really did not want to get involved, but wondered if he should? “What do you think I should do?”, he queried.
Fortunately, I knew Proverb 26:17:
“Like one who seizes a mad dog by the ears
is a passer-by who meddles in a quarrel not his own.” KJV
I was sitting in a church leadership meeting when a disgruntled church member got out of his chair and walked behind me and began to speak against me. He didn’t like our plans to move our overcrowded church to a new location. (Four Sunday morning and two Sunday night services was just too much. We often watched people drive around looking for a parking space and when they couldn’t find one, they simply drove away.).
The angry church member walked behind me and put his hand on my shoulders. He said some rather nasty things about me and my leadership. What would God want me to do?
Fortunately, I knew Proverb 19:11:
“A man’s wisdom gives him patience;
it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” KJV
Steve Dowdle, the head of our Pastoral Care Department, once came to my office and said, “Roger, you have done something wrong which needs attention. I need to rebuke you according to biblical guidelines because I believe you have wronged someone in our congregation.”.
Fortunately, I knew Proverb 17:10:
“A word of rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into the back of a fool.” KJV
Proverbs Is More Than Clever Little Sayings Or Hints About How To Run Your Life. The Book Of Proverbs Is All About The Pursuit Of Wisdom.
By The Way, The Smartest Person In The Room Is The One Who Best Knows Proverbs.
The Payoff Is Huge when We arrange Our Lives Around Acquiring Wisdom.
“Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Esteem her and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you” (Proverbs 4:5-7). KJV
Cameron, let us think about this by scrolling through some people we know. Do you know any wise ones?
Do you know any wise dads? Dads who have their lives in order and raise their sons to have their lives in order? Wise dads know when to encourage? Dads who know when to come along side tenderly? And when to correct forcefully? Dads who listen, and who know when to teach and when to let the consequences of life be the teacher.
“The father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him” (Proverbs 23:24).
“Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding” (Proverbs 4:1).
Let’s put a value on wise dads. How much are wise dads worth? If you don’t have a father, God can provide you with a spiritual father-a mentor.
Let me let you in on a secret. I know a lot of men and women for whom life is not working very well. It is not that they aren’t smart. It is not that they aren’t trying hard. Life just isn’t working because they had a foolish dad. A foolish dad makes life very hard.
On the other hand, I know a lot of men and women who are doing really well. Life is working. What is the common denominator? They will say, “I grew up in the home with a great dad.”
The same thing can be said about wise mothers.
“Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her” (Proverb 31:28). KJV
What is the value of a wise mom and dad? Ask children who have grown up with wise parents and they will tell you, “wise parents are better than gold.”
Now, let’s turn this around. How do parents feel about their children when they walk in paths of wisdom.
Proverb 15:20: “A wise son brings joy to his father,” KJV
What is better than that?!
I decided long ago that whether my children are well known or live in big houses or have big salaries doesn’t really matter to me—but that they walk in wisdom—that they understand God’s ways and pursue them is everything to me.
THE CONSEQUENCES ARE HUGE WHEN WE ARRANGE OUR LIVES AROUND FOOLISHNESS.
“The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn,
shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
But the way of the wicked is like deep DARKNESS;
they do not know what makes them stumble” (Proverb 4:18-19). KJV
This book minces no words on this subject. Proverbs refers to the lack of wisdom as foolishness.
Proverbs often mentions several classes of people who desperately need wisdom: the fool, the simple, the scorner, the lazy, and the wicked.
Unfortunately. It is easy to follow the way of a fool. We are all born with a case of the “Follies.”
“Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,
but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him” ( Proverb 22:15). KJV
We are not born with a blank slate so that we can easily chose the path of wisdom. We are all born with a bent toward foolishness.
This foolishness has to be driven out step-by-step, day-by-day, month-by-month, and the foolishness must be replaced by wisdom, or we will eventually wake up to realize that we’ve been fools!
“A man’s own folly ruins his life,
yet his heart rages against the LORD” Proverb 19:3). KJV
Very few things are more foolish than getting at odds with God when what we’ve done is it our fault.
Foolishness reminds me of the old nomad who awakened hungry in the middle of the night. He lit a candle and began eating dates from a bowl beside his bed.
He took a bite from one and saw a worm in it; so he threw it outside the tent. He picked up a second date, took a bite out of it and found another worm. He threw it outside the tent. He picked up a third date, took a bite out of it, and found another worm. He threw it out.
He was very hungry, and realized he would not have any dates left if he continued like this.
So, he blew out the candle and ate the rest of the dates.
Too many of us prefer darkness and denial to the light of reality
NOW IS THE TIME TO enroll in the school of wisdom AND START BECOMING WISE.
- Read a chapter of Proverbs every day.
There are 31 chapters in the book of Proverbs. Read one chapter every day and each month you will have read through the entire book. This is how you become the wisest person in the group.
- Whenever A Life Experience Needs Attention, Turn To The Book Of Hebrews For Advice On What To Do.
Guidance from the Holy Spirit plus wisdom from the book of Proverbs make a powerful team. The personification of wisdom reaches its climax in the Person of Jesus Christ. He is able to fit the pieces of life together.
- You Don’t Have To Wait To Begin Making Wise Decisions.
Start reading the book of Proverbs right now. If you miss a day don’t try to catch up. Just jump to the next day. Catch the one that you missed next month.
- Spend Time With Wise People.
Very few of us can run with a bad pack of dogs and not get fleas.
“He Who Walks With The Wise Grows Wise,
But A Companion Of Fools Suffers Harm” (Proverb 13:20. KJV
Hang around with people on path to wisdom. Not folly.
- Apply Wisdom To Your Life.
Truth for living is not abstract truth. It means that you have to do something—not just know something.
- If You Have Wise Parents Then Listen And Put Into Practice Their Advice And Guidance.
If mom and dad weren’t all that wise, then be especially diligent in reading Proverbs every day, and seek the counsel of the wise as often as you can.
As our relationship with Jesus grows, what begins with fear matures into perfect love.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” 1 John 4:18. KJV
Well, Cameron, thanks for asking such a thought-provoking question. I hope that my response is helpful.