Proverbs is a book of wisdom. It's about how the world works, how to avoid its evils, and how to experience God's blessing. In the opening verses, Solomon tells us the two purposes of his book: the audience he's writing to and the heart of true wisdom.
Proverb's first purpose is to make us recognize and understand wisdom when we hear it (Proverbs 1:2). Its second purpose is to teach us what is wise (Proverbs 1:3). The audience for Solomon's message is everyone (Proverbs 1:5-6), but it's particularly written to young and immature people (Proverbs 1:4). In fact, much of the book is framed as a series of lectures given by a father to his son.
"Wisdom" in Scripture is defined in a few different ways. Wisdom can be technical mastery--like the kind exercised by the tailors who made the priest's clothes and the metal workers who carved the decorations for the tabernacle (Exodus 28:3, 31:3). Wisdom can also be the ability to mete out just verdicts, as Solomon did when he intervened in a maternal custody battle (1 Kings 3:28). Wisdom is even the ability to lead a nation (Deuteronomy 34:9). In a broader sense, wisdom is understanding how life (or people, nations, or objects) work and then using that knowledge to respond appropriately, justly, or skillfully.
That's why Solomon's first piece of wisdom is not a wise saying; it's a statement about the nature and heart of true wisdom. Solomon says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge" (Proverbs 9:10).
If wisdom is both understanding and responding to the way the world works, you cannot be truly wise without understanding and responding to the one who created the world and designed how it works (Proverbs 3:19-20). True wisdom must take into account the Creator and the wisdom he used to form the world and its people.
Solomon warns that anyone who rejects the wisdom built into the world is a fool. Fools can expect death (Proverbs 1:18). Being a fool carries steep consequences because of its rejection of God. The pursuit or rejection of wisdom is a moral choice between good and evil. The book of Proverbs invites us to choose wisdom, gain understanding, and order our lives in accord with the Creator of life by humbly accepting and fearing the Lord.
Where is the Gospel?
God made the world with perfect wisdom (Proverbs 3:19) The Apostle John clarifies by saying that Jesus created the world and everything was made by his hand (John 1:3). And the Apostle Paul will say that in Christ "are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3)
But the wisdom of God is not primarily seen in Jesus' ability to create the world. More so, it is seen in Jesus' death and resurrection. The Apostle Paul says "we preach Christ crucified â€¦ the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1 Corinthians 1:23-24). The world works according to the dual principles of God's creative power and Jesus' sacrificial death.
For many, the idea of obeying or fearing a Creator God is foolishness; for others the idea of a God who died and rose from the dead is bizarre. But to Christians, God is our fundamental reality; resurrection is the organizing principle of our world.
We observe that in the way nature works. Seeds must be buried and die before the harvest is collected (1 Corinthians 15:36). The Apostle Paul points out that the wisdom applied to created seeds should also apply to our created bodies (1 Corinthians 15:42). If seeds can be raised from the dead by God's wisdom, so can we!
Jesus' death and resurrection should, in one way, be expected as you look at the wise way the world works. But more importantly, it's the guarantee that resurrection life and wisdom come to those who fear the Lord, while death and foolishness follow all those who reject the wisdom of Jesus. If you want a resurrection life, choose wisdom. Choose Jesus.
See For Yourself
May the Holy Spirit open your eyes to see the God who orders the world with wisdom. And may you see Jesus' death and resurrection as the place where God's wisdom is demonstrated most clearly.