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1. Proverbs is a collection of wisdom, not a collection of guarantees.

At first glance, the book of Proverbs seems to offer an easy, quick, and formulaic answer to all of life’s problems. The book seems to guarantee prosperity and success to those who put its equation to work in their lives. In other words, a surface reading of Proverbs might lead you to conclude that if you do “X” you will get “Y,” with “X” being wisdom and “Y” being human success and prosperity. For example, in Proverbs 3:1–2 we are told that anyone who remembers the teaching of Proverbs and keeps its commands will experience long life and prosperity. Taken alone, that might sound like a guaranteed result, right? You can see how tempting it is to read Proverbs in this simplistic manner, but reading Proverbs in this way is wrong and potentially harmful.

Proverbs does not offer us formulas that always work in every situation, but rather wise principles that are worthy of our contemplation and discerning implementation. When we read Proverbs, we must do so in light of the general biblical principle that reward does not always immediately follow obedience. Sometimes our rewards for obedience are deferred until a later time, even until the age to come. Remember that Jesus, who was the personification of wisdom and lived in perfect obedience to all the commandments, suffered greatly for a time. It was only after He suffered in obedience that He was exalted (Phil. 2:5–11). We should pursue the wisdom of Proverbs not because it will produce guaranteed results, but because it is a gift from God to guide our lives in this world.

2. Proverbs reminds us that God cares about all aspects of our lives.

One of the qualities of the book of Proverbs is its broad scope. Proverbs deals with many aspects of human life in a very practical way. If you map out the topical content of Proverbs, you will see that it addresses a wide range of concerns including wealth (Prov. 3:9, 13–14; 11:4; 13:7, 11, 22; 14:31; 21:5; 28:6, 20; 30:8–9), words (Prov. 10:19; 12:19; 15:23, 28; 17:27–28; 25:11; 26:20), work (Prov. 6:6–11; 12:11; 19:15; 20:4, 13; 26:13–16), friendship (17:17; 18:24; 27:6, 9), marriage (Prov. 12:4; 18:22; 19:14; 27:15; 31:30), parenting (Prov. 13:24; 17:6; 19:18; 22:6; 23:13–14; 29:17), and human sexuality (Prov. 5:3; 8–9, 15–19; 6:27–29). This reminds us that God cares about all aspects of our lives and wants us to apply His Word and His wisdom to every area.

Sometimes Christians compartmentalize their lives by relegating their faith just to Sunday morning worship or to so-called “spiritual” matters such as personal devotions, prayer, and evangelism. While faithfulness in the spiritual disciplines is important to God and to our well-being, so too is how we steward our wealth, employ our words, go about our work, and choose our friends and spouses. By providing us God’s wisdom for all spheres of life, Proverbs challenges and corrects our temptation to compartmentalize our faith.

Furthermore, God’s fatherly concern for all aspects of our lives also serves to fill these spheres of human experience with great meaning and significance. Proverbs helps us to embrace a view of life and the world that encourages us to do all that we do to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31). Proverbs reminds us that everything we do matters to God and that God wants the best for us. Ultimately, the comprehensive breadth of the wisdom of Proverbs is a gift from God to help us flourish and thrive.

3. By emphasizing wisdom, Proverbs points us to Jesus.

While Proverbs is often neglected as a source of typology or foreshadowing regarding the work of Jesus Christ, it speaks of Jesus in powerful ways. First, the Gospels display that Jesus possessed great wisdom. Even as a child, when He was teaching older men in the temple courts, Jesus revealed that He was wise, and we are told that He grew in wisdom (Luke 2:47–52). In addition, when Jesus entered His public ministry, His preferred method of teaching others was by use of parables, a form of wisdom instruction. The Gospels portray Jesus as a wisdom teacher, much like the sage of Proverbs.

A second connection between Jesus and Proverbs is that Proverbs teaches us the priceless value of wisdom. Proverbs exhorts us to view wisdom as being more valuable than both silver and gold (Prov. 3:14–35). Proverbs admonishes its readers to seek after and attain wisdom because of its priceless nature. The New Testament tells us that Jesus is the “wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:30) and that in Him are hidden all the “treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3). Thus, the book of Proverbs’ admonishment to pursue wisdom above all else is ultimately a call to pursue the One who is wisdom. Jesus not only possessed wisdom and taught wisdom; He is wisdom. Failing to pursue Him is the gravest of all human follies.

This article is part of the Every Book of the Bible: 3 Things to Know collection.