Through the Bible in a Year: Proverbs 8-10

This Week’s Reading Schedule

Monday, April 23: Ruth 1-4 (whole book)
Tuesday, April 24: Psalm 21-25
Wednesday, April 25: Proverbs 1-4
Thursday, April 26: Proverbs 5-7
Friday, April 27: Proverbs 8-10

Next week we will read Galatians, James, and Romans, which is a lot for one week, but the following week we will go back over Romans chapter by chapter, comparing James and Galatians (and the Gospels).

The overall year’s plan is here.

Proverbs 8:1-21

This chapter is the ultimate praise of Wisdom. Wisdom is "better than jewels, and all desirable things cannot compare with her" (v. 11, NASB). Her fruit is "better than gold, even pure gold" (v. 19, NASB).

Again, notice the link between Wisdom and righteous living. Wisdom is not marked by haughty scientific, mathematical, or even theological insights, but by practical advice on doing good and avoiding evil (cf. Titus 2).

"I, wisdom, dwell with prudence,
And I find knowledge and discretion.
"The fear of the LORD is to hate evil;
Pride and arrogance and the evil way
And the perverted mouth, I hate." (vv. 12-13, NASB)

A special note on verse 21. The blessings of the Old Covenant were physical blessings. God was promising the Israelites literal physical riches for gaining Wisdom. The New Covenant, however, is a spiritual covenant. The riches we are to long for are to be stored in heaven, not on earth (Matt. 6:19-24).

Proverbs 8:22-31

This is the passage that ties Wisdom to Jesus before he became a man. We know from many passages in the apostles writings that he was in the beginning with God and all things were created through him (e.g., Jn. 1:1-3; Col. 1:15-17).

Modern Christians don’t like to apply this passage to Jesus, not just because Wisdom is referred to as feminine (which we addressed Wednesday), but also because the passage can make it sound like the Son of God had a beginning rather than existing eternally. Until the fourth century, however, everyone applied this passage to Jesus.

In the fourth century, a heretic (i.e., divisive or opinionated man) by the name of Arius arose who argued that the Son of God did not exist prior to being "brought forth" (vv. 24 & 25) so that he could create everything else.

His contemporaries and those who came before him had never seen it that way. The early Christians did not explain this passage quite the way modern Christians do, but they sorely objected to Arius’ interpretation and put him out of the church. (The story is much longer than that, and you can read about it at my Christian history site or in my book In the Beginning Was the Logos.)

The early Christians explained this passage by saying that the Son of God had always existed, but inside of God as his Word and Wisdom. When it came time to create all things, God "gave birth" or "generated" his Word, and the Word became his Son and co-creator of the universe. Thus, the Son had always existed, but not always separate from his Father. Prior to his generation, as described here in Proverbs 8, he was inside the Father.

What can be better entitled to the name of Wisdom than the Reason or Word of God?
   Listen therefore to Wisdom herself, constituted in the character of a second Person. “At first the Lord created me as the beginning of his ways, with a view to his own works. Before he made the earth, before the mountains were settled, moreover, before all the hills did he beget me.”
   That is to say, he created and generated his own intelligence. (Tertullian, Against Praxeas 6, c. A.D. 210)

Let’s not just stop with addressing the theological aspect, though. This is a beautiful picture of Christ not just creating the world, but taking great delight in it. He was beside his Father "as a Master Workman," and he "delighted in the sons of men."

From the very beginning we were a work of joy for God, despite the fact that God knew we would fall. Jesus was "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8). The shedding of Jesus’ blood was not a desperate measure after God was surprised by Adam. It was planned from the beginning to take us from a precarious innocence to a rock solid purity, reborn in Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 9

Most of this is self-explanatory, but it is time to start pointing out something that the Scriptures will address repeatedly, and something you will face if you are a follower of the Word of God, willing to break with tradition where Scripture disagrees.

He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself,
And he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself.
Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you,
Reprove a wise man and he will love you. (vv. 7-8, NASB)

You cannot just correct everybody. Many, perhaps most, people are not interested in truth. You can argue forever and ever with them, and you will get nowhere, chasing yourself in circles, having to say the same things over and over.

God reveals truth to the upright in heart. To the rest, he allows it to remain hidden. Trying to argue truth into those whose hearts God has not opened is a very frustrating process. You will achieve only dishonor and insults for yourself.

We saw that when we went through the Gospels. The purpose of the parables was so that "seeing, they may not see, and hearing, they may not hear" (cf. Matt. 12:15). We are not to throw our pearls before pigs, nor give what is holy to dogs (Matt. 7:6).

Proverbs 10

Proverbs 10 begins the actual list of Solomon’s proverbs. When we go through chapters like this, I am not going to add commentary. (There may be exceptions to that.) Proverbs are to be dwelt on, considered, and memorized for appropriate situations.

I wanted to cover this first section of Proverbs to complete the week. Ruth, obviously, only took one day, and I don’t like to start new books mid-week. Next week we will have our hands full, tackling Romans, James, and Galatians in one week.

Next Week

I’d like you just to read through those books (starting with Romans 1-6 on Monday), continuing on if there are things you don’t understand. The following week we will go back and put those difficult concepts in place, and I promise you that by the end, if you can handle having traditions shattered a bit, you’ll find Romans, Galatians, and James simple and in complete harmony. Not only that, but you’ll be holding an understanding that the church taught throughout its early centuries.

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