Proverbs, A Divine Appeal to Humanity
Proverbs 1: 7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
As the Book of Psalms is man's appeal to God, the Book of Proverbs (along with Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs) represents God's divine appeal to mankind. Proverbs are not hard and fast rules that apply to every situation the same way but rather a guideline from God on how to live on this earth. When interpreting the Bible, sometimes certain books present more of a challenge than others to discern the purpose but in Proverbs; King Solomon tells us within the first seven verses exactly why they were written and why they remain important to us today as well. God's Word is always transcendent; as what was so true thousands of years ago still has stark relevance to our lives today. Examining these purposes for Proverbs should give us a reminder of how God intended for us to live; His divine appeal to humanity.
After Solomon is introduced as the author, verse two starts the brief explanation of the purpose of Proverbs:
for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight. - Proverbs 1:2
To start, God is appealing to us to attain two things, wisdom and discipline. Wisdom is defined as:
Knowledge of what is true or right, coupled with just judgment as to action.
The word embraces the acquisition of knowledge as well. We can pursue degrees of higher education and focus our learning as the world becomes ever-specialized within each area of knowledge. But the definition here is not only of what is true, but also what is right. There are sadly many people who know what is true, but have difficulty with what is right. The world blurs the lines that God set as clear black and white into shades of grey to make us feel better about not doing what is right. God gave us the Book of Proverbs however, to remind us those lines are not grey in nature. The second thing God appeals for us to acquire is discipline. Just as a star athlete has to discipline their body, God expects us to seek discipline in our lives as well. It is easy to know something but far harder to actually discipline our lives to adhere to it. For example:
Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil; Proverbs 3: 7
We can acquire the knowledge in this verse rather easily. It teaches us that we should not think ourselves to be wise, we should fear God, and stay away from evil. Pretty simple right? Yet how many times do we find ourselves getting ahead of God in our walk, thinking more of ourselves than we should? How many times have we forgotten the fear of the Lord and found ourselves dabbling in that which we know we should not be. In these instances we have acquired the knowledge of Proverbs 3:7 but failed to acquire the discipline to put it into practice. That is why wisdom is defined as knowledge, coupled with just judgment as to action. Knowledge is not enough. God's appeal to us here is not just knowledge but wisdom through discipline.
Continuing on, verse 3 in the first chapter of Proverbs states:
for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair; - Proverbs 1: 3
We see God's appeal continue. It is not His desire for us to randomly apply discipline but rather that our entire life be disciplined. A disciplined life does not fall into the traps of the enemy as easily as the undisciplined life. For example,
For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is as bitter as gall, sharp as a double edged sword.- Proverbs 5: 3-4