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Meaningful Life – Living Wisely in a Foolish Age
Proverbs – Week 1
This summer I had the privilege of teaching through some of the themes in Proverbs. Over the next seven weeks, I want to summarize what I learned. Additionally, in true Proverbs fashion, I want to keep each of these points short, punchy, and powerful. If you hang with me for the entire seven weeks, you will notice that this series of posts are alliterative, and they employ an inclusio (opening phrase repeated at the end). These are just two of the many literary devices that Proverbs utilizes to make its wisdom memorable. This week’s truth? Wisdom for living a meaningful life.
The Truth in Proverbs about a Meaningful Life:
The book of Proverbs is part of a verbal wisdom tradition that utilizes literary devices to help its recipients learn wisdom. The primary theme of Proverbs is to “Get Wisdom” (Proverbs 4:7). And Proverbs tells us that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7, 9:10, 15:33). God is the very source of wisdom, so all wisdom begins and ends with Him. Indeed, the very word used for wisdom in Hebrew (hakma) indicates technical skill. It is the same word used to describe the artisans who helped build the tabernacle and the temple. Thus wisdom represents skill at living life, or, as one commentator put it, “cutting with the grain of life” (Ortlund, “Teach the Bible: Proverbs,” TGC, Nancy Guthrie, 6/30/2016).
Yet Proverbs is not alone in this wisdom tradition. It is part of the wisdom literature of the Bible which also includes Ecclesiastes and Job. These two books help balance out the wisdom of Proverbs by reminding us that we live in a fallen world. Sometimes tragedies occur and things happen that just don’t make sense—even when you are living your life with wisdom. Ultimately, when tragedy and despair arise in your life, embracing the wisdom found in Proverbs will help you find the contentment necessary to say with Job, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).
Finding Christ in Proverbs:
Standard systematic theology recognizes Christ as the penultimate fulfillment of “prophet, priest, and king.” Yet Proverbs introduces us to another tradition and role that was common in Israel and the surrounding cultures of that time, but that is often overlooked. That of sage. And Christ is the penultimate sage as well. As we examine the wisdom from Proverbs, consider how Christ fulfills and embodies the truths in each of the themes below.
Have you discounted the wisdom of Proverbs because they are not “promises” or they don’t always work themselves out in reality?
Where do you need to start “cutting with the grain of life” and stop churning?
What areas of your life tend to cause you anxiety and stress?
Perhaps it’s time to turn to the book of Proverbs for some additional insight into how God designed the universe to work.
A more detailed investigation and outline of each of these themes can be found on my blog:
For additional posts, check out my Life Letter Cafe author page.