How to Read Proverbs


How to Read Proverbs

Proverbs 10:1-32

Main Idea: Jesus will produce the wisdom of Proverbs in your life progressively.

  1. Jesus Produces Wisdom in the Area of Your Work and Money (10:2-5).
  2. Jesus Produces Wisdom in the Area of Your Words and Mouth (10:8).
  3. Jesus Produces Wisdom in the Area of Your Relationships (10:1,12).
  4. Jesus Produces Wisdom That Leads to Rewards in Your Life and the Life to Come (10:24-32).

Proverbs 10 starts a new section in Proverbs. This is what we think of today when we think about Proverbs: the one- or two-line sayings of earthy wisdom in Proverbs 10–31. We will look at this chapter to learn how to read Proverbs. We cannot cover all of it, but we want to answer the question, How do you read Proverbs? How do you understand the book?

For those of you who know something about the book of Proverbs or who have read it or have several verses memorized, that may seem like a strange task. That may seem like a weird question: How do I rightly read Proverbs? We might understand that question if it were asked about Romans or Isaiah or Leviticus but not with Proverbs, because it is pretty simple and straightforward for the most part. It gives practical advice. I may not understand sacrificing a goat and what to do with the entrails in Leviticus, but I understand when the Bible tells me to not be lazy or to discipline my children. Those are easy to comprehend. For the most part we would say that the majority of the Proverbs are easy to understand.

Here is the problem—there is a right way and a wrong way to read the book of Proverbs. There is a right way to read Proverbs that leads to joy and life, and there is a wrong way to read Proverbs that leads to misery or pride. Here’s the difference—you can read the Proverbs like a Pharisee and say, “I need to do these things in order for God to love me. I need to obey these practical bits of advice because if I do them, God will accept me.” That is one way to read the book of Proverbs—and that is the wrong way! We should not read it like a Pharisee. Instead, we need to read the Proverbs like blood-bought Christians who say, “These are not the things that we do in order to get God to love us; these are the things that we do because God already loves us. We do not do these things to become his children; we do these things because in Jesus Christ we have already been adopted into his family, and now here is how we live our lives.” There is a huge difference between those two approaches. Reading the Bible like Pharisees will lead you into either misery when you fail or pride when you feel like you succeed. But if you read it like a Christian, it will lead you to become wise and joyful.

The behaviors that we read about here—most of Proverbs 10–31 does talk about conduct—are not things that God tells you to do in order to become his child. They are not things God tells you to do in order for him to love you. These behaviors are what the Lord is producing in those who are already his children—those who are already a part of his family. He is slowly, progressively conforming you to the image of Christ; he is making you more like Jesus Christ, who is the Wisdom of God. Proverbs is very much a book on sanctification.

If you say, “I don’t have these things in my life. My life is a wreck,” then maybe the reason you do not have them is because you are not a believer in Jesus. I hope Proverbs 10 will reveal to you the areas of your life where you are a fool and sinful, and then will drive you to Jesus Christ as your Savior. Then, through faith in Christ, the wisdom of Proverbs is what God will produce in your life daily. The gospel is not about making yourself righteous; it is not about doing these things to become righteous. The gospel is about how the righteousness of Jesus has been credited to your account by virtue of your faith in him and how, by his Spirit and by his Word, he is molding you and shaping you to become more like him. It’s a slow process. It is gradual. You can take two steps forward, one step or three steps back, then a few steps forward again. But it is a process whereby God is molding you and shaping you into the image of his Wisdom, who is Jesus Christ.

The Christian life is lived by faith. You live by faith recognizing your sin and foolishness, and then you daily repent of the areas where you are not believing the gospel or worshiping Jesus rightly. As you do that, the Lord shapes you into the image of Christ so that you can live out the wisdom of Proverbs. We are not saved by faith plus works, but we are saved by a faith that does work. Faith will produce obedience and wisdom in your life.

Proverbs 9 teaches us this truth. Proverbs teaches that when we fail to live up to God’s wisdom it is evidence of idols in our hearts that we are worshiping rather than Jesus. It reveals a problem with Jesus in our lives. Proverbs 9 was the key chapter—the hinge chapter—because it summed up everything that came before it (Prov 1–8) and it sets up everything that comes after it (Prov 10–31). The whole point of Proverbs 9 was that you have two beings that vie for your affection, love, and worship (Longman, Proverbs, 58–61, 64–68).[17]One is the Wisdom of God ( Jesus) and the other is Folly, who represents idols. Solomon tells his son that if you want to be wise, you need to have a personal relationship with Wisdom ( Jesus); and if you want to be a fool, you will choose a relationship with idols. And the choice is a matter of life and death. The choice you make determines whether or not you can walk the path of wisdom in your daily life. The choice determines whether or not you can follow the wise advice given here in chapters 10–31. To walk the wise path and obey this practical advice that he gives to his son, one must have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. You can be smart, you can have a high IQ, and you can be very intellectual; but without a relationship with Jesus you cannot be wise. No matter how smart or wise you may be in the eyes of the world, without a relationship with Jesus you cannot walk in wisdom as it is laid out in the book of Proverbs.

The interpretation of Proverbs 9 is critical for us to understand as we head into this new section in Proverbs 10. The heading “Solomon’s proverbs” in 10:1 indicates the start of a new section. It is different from what has come before. The second part of the book—the proverbs proper—is what we typically think of when we think about Proverbs. These are the short, pithy, sometimes random sayings of practical wisdom rather than extended discourses.[18]

Whether or not you are walking in wisdom daily—which means all kinds of things from whether or not you listen to your parents when they tell you to do something, whether you can finish an assignment on time, or whether you can control your tongue—reveals whether you are worshiping Jesus or worshiping idols. Whether you walk in wisdom or foolishness reveals whether you are in right relationship with Jesus or you are an idolater.

If you see patterns of foolishness in your life with finances or relationships or a hundred other things, it reveals that you are worshiping someone or something other than Jesus. It could be multiple idols, and Proverbs does not necessarily spell out what the specific ones are. In a lot of places the main idol that leads us into foolishness is ourselves! When we exalt ourselves and put ourselves number one in our own lives, that will lead to all kinds of foolishness. Self is the idol at the root of so much foolishness in Proverbs, like not listening to anyone else when they give you advice or try to correct you because you think you know so much more than everyone else. For others, money is the idol at the root of their foolishness, which manifests itself as greed, covetousness, or trying get-rich-quick schemes. For others, comfort is their idol, so they are lazy.

For others, their children are their idols, so they put their children up on a pedestal and refuse to discipline them. They act like their children are little deities they have to appease at all costs so that they will not get mad at them. That is what idolatry looks like. In impoverished countries, people think they have to give food or money to the idol at the temple so the idol will not unleash evil spirits on them. That is the kind of worship we see every time a child pitches a temper tantrum in the toy aisle at Target and their parents give them the toy they want! When we worship something or someone other than Jesus, it leads to all sorts of practical foolishness in our lives.

The practicalities of life laid out in Proverbs 10–31 reveal our worship life. Worship is not just about singing on Sunday. The Bible says that you should do everything, whether you eat or drink or whatever it is, to the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31). That is what Proverbs is about if you want to boil it down—it reveals where your life is idolatrous and where you are not believing the gospel.

Proverbs 10–31 is random and disconnected, but there are major categories that you can look at thematically (as we will in this book). The major categories are things like words, work, finances, relationships, and future rewards. Since these things reveal whether we are in right relationship with Jesus or worshiping idols, what Proverbs shows us is that there is no spiritual and secular divide in life. You do not have your religious life over here and your secular life over there. Proverbs says all of the areas of your daily life are spiritual in nature. It does not matter how morally neutral the advice Solomon gives here may seem to be; it is not neutral. These practical areas of your life either show you are moving toward Jesus or you are moving away from Jesus. That has everything to do with whether or not you can clean your room, whether or not you have right relationships, and whether or not you can balance your checkbook. So we must read chapters 10–31 in this context.

God lays out for us through Solomon how life works best. Life works best when first you have harmony with God (i.e., you have been reconciled to him), which leads to harmony in your relationships with other people and the world around you. God knows this because he is the one who made the world. He knows the way the world works because he made it. He is good, he loves us, and he wants to share that key with us through the Spirit here in Proverbs. Often it seems that when we read God’s counsel and advice, we think to ourselves, “I don’t like that. That doesn’t seem like it’s going to make me happy. That seems like it might hurt me in the long run.” What the Bible tells us instead is that the reason God tells you these things is not because he does not want you to be happy. He tells you these things so you can have a true happiness that lasts forever. He loves you. He wants you to know the way life works best. He knows that a life filled with idols will destroy you and everyone around you.

We will walk briefly through Proverbs 10 and some cross-reference verses in other parts of Proverbs to see examples of the wisdom of Proverbs so we can know how to read the whole book as a book about Jesus and our wisdom in him. Proverbs 10 mainly contrasts the two ways or paths that we have seen so far. There is a way of wisdom and a way of foolishness. There is a way of righteousness (synonymous with wisdom) and a way of wickedness (synonymous with foolishness) (Waltke, Proverbs, Chapters 1–15, 447).[19]Solomon constantly contrasts these two paths in these major categories of life. We will see how that is laid out here and see that Proverbs 10–31 points us to how Jesus will produce this kind of wisdom progressively in his followers.

What we see differently starting in chapter 10 is how random everything is now. Let me talk to you about being a wise son, then let’s talk about money, then let’s talk about laziness, then let’s talk about the blessing of the Lord, then let’s talk about how you use your mouth, and then let’s talk about how you discipline your children. It is all over the place and scattershot. We should not think this is by accident. The reason it is random is because the book of Proverbs is Solomon obeying the command to parents in Deuteronomy 6 to teach their children the law.[20] God gave very specific commands to the parents about how to teach their children the law. He said you do it when they wake up, when they sit, when they walk along the road, and when they lie down. How much of your day is given to waking up, sitting, walking around, and lying down? The entire day! That is the point. He is saying that your task as a parent is to teach your children the law throughout the day. How does that work? For those of you who are parents, do you sit children down one day and say, “OK. Let me map out our week. Monday, I will teach you everything you need to know about marriage and dating and romance (most of you probably do not have a lot of material here). Tuesday, I will teach you everything you need to know about work. Wednesday, I will teach you everything you need to know about how to communicate.” And so on. Is that the way we teach our children? Do you just sit them down and pour every bit of information you have into them? Of course not. Instead, we may talk about a hundred different things as we go through the day. We will talk to them about things from the mundane to the sublime, like how to throw a baseball, how to drive a car, how to do a job interview, how to spend money wisely, how to handle a conflict with a friend, how to handle dating issues, how to improve their prayer life—all kinds of things. We go through our day, and as conversations and topics come up, we have the responsibility to teach our children. That is what’s happening in Proverbs. Solomon says that as you go throughout the day, conversations will come up about all kinds of different topics, and you need to be ready to instruct your children and impart wisdom to them.

There are some broad categories that we can use to arrange things in a sermon so that it is easier for us to walk through them. In fact, in the rest of this commentary there will be different thematic series that will tackle all of these in more detail; but in this message we want to get a glimpse of what Proverbs says about these different areas of life so that we can understand how to read the book rightly in its entirety.

Jesus Produces Wisdom in the Area of Your Work and Money

Proverbs 10:2-5

Jesus produces wisdom in your life in the way you work and handle money. We see these themes early on in this section in Proverbs 10:2-5 that deal with money and our work ethic. Solomon writes in verse 2, “Ill-gotten gains do not profit anyone, but righteousness rescues from death.” If you are a greedy person, if you are a person who cheats the government, or if you are a person who cheats your employer, then that will not profit you like you think it will. You are an idolater. Sometimes idolatry is not worship of bad things. It can be the worship of good things that you have put in the place of God.

Proverbs says many things about money. Proverbs can be very positive. It says that if you are a wise person, you will make more money, generally speaking. But the Proverbs are not always positive about money. They do not say that every time you accumulate money you should take it as a sign of God’s blessing in your life.[21]Money—if it is not gotten in the right way or if you trust in it (11:28)—is destructive. I had a friend who in college worked for a company that would sell things to senior adults that senior adults really did not need. After a couple of weeks, the person felt extremely guilty for selling things to people that they did not need and talking them into spending money they did not have. Yet, the employer was pressuring for more and more sales. My friend considered the people on these sales calls and thought, “I’m swindling my grandmother.” My friend quit the job. The Bible says that these wrong ways of getting money are destructive and harmful to you. Other examples where we can see this are the Enron debacle and Ponzi schemes.

But the problem that many of us have with this text is the question, Is this really true? The reason we have that problem is because we have observed in our lives people who have cheated the system and gotten away with it. They made tons of money and had financial security even though they went about it the wrong way. So are these proverbs true? Is this really the way the world works? Proverbs 10:3 says that the Lord will not let the righteous go hungry. What about Christians in the Sudan who are starving to death? What about Christians in your church who lost their jobs and now their families are struggling? Does that mean they are not God’s children or that God does not love them?

The key to understanding the Proverbs is that we must view them in light of Christ and eternity. Do not view them in terms of immediacy. Generally these things are true immediately, but they will always be true ultimately (Dever, The Message, 510). The wicked may make more money now and the righteous may starve right now, but in the end those who are outside of Christ will have trouble and those who are in Christ will be trouble free. Those in Christ will be enriched, and those outside of Christ will lose all that they have. How can you come to know this for certain? Look to the life of Jesus.[22] Judas—who gets money in the wrong way—ends up dead; but the righteous one, Jesus, is delivered from death, just like verse 2 promised! Jesus is the only one who is righteous. If you are in him, you will be rescued from death later and freed from love of money in the present.

Proverbs 10:4-5 turns to the issue of work ethic when it says,

Idle hands make one poor, but diligent hands bring riches. The son who gathers during summer is prudent; the son who sleeps during harvest is disgraceful.

Solomon says two things: laziness will lead to poverty and shaming your parents, while diligence and hard work lead to riches where you are able to provide and bring joy to your parents. Again, wisdom is about the effect your actions have on you and the people around you. The problem is that hardly anyone confesses that they are a lazy person. No one has ever walked into my office for counseling and said, “I’m really wrestling with laziness.” No one thinks they are lazy because the picture of laziness in their mind is the couch potato who watches soap operas all day long while eating Klondike bars in their bathrobe. In Proverbs, laziness refers to people who cannot see their assignments through to completion (see Moore, “Finding Jesus”). They might start a task and get to the middle of it, but they walk away before it is finished. It’s the son who helped plant the crops but is not there during harvest to finish the task. In our day, the laziness of Proverbs looks like distractions that keep you from staying on task. You cannot complete your assignments because Facebook distracts you for thirty minutes. You come back and do five minutes of work, but then check Twitter for fifteen minutes. Laziness is seen in the extended adolescence of our culture where kids can’t grow up and provide for themselves but keep ending up back at Mom and Dad’s house (bringing shame to their parents, even if the parents won’t admit it). Laziness keeps you from providing for your family or from the ability to have a family, and the failure to provide for your family is a failure to believe the gospel—it’s a Jesus problem (cf. 1 Tim 5:8).

We see these same themes throughout the Proverbs. Proverbs 13:11 says in the ESV, “Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.” Murphy and Huwiler prefer that translation as well and writes, “The sense is that when money comes too easily for a person, it will not last” (Proverbs, 65). Proverbs consistently condemns get-rich-quick schemes as disastrous. We can sit back and observe that this is truly the case. How many stories have you heard of NFL or NBA stars who made millions and were bankrupt before they hit forty? For many, they gained all that money too quickly, without having formed the kind of wisdom that was necessary for them to know how to handle and steward that money well. That is true for us as well. We have to be shaped and molded with the kind of character it takes to be able to handle money rightly. That kind of wisdom typically comes by gaining money little by little. Jesus works in your life so that he who is faithful with a few things can now be given many things.

Jesus Produces Wisdom in the Area of Your Words and Mouth

Proverbs 10:8

Jesus grows you in wisdom when it comes to the use of your tongue. We see this theme again and again in Proverbs 10. For example, verse 8 says, “A wise heart accepts commands, but foolish lips will be destroyed.” The ESV uses the phrase “babbling fool” at the end of the verse, which Waltke seems to prefer when he writes,

The fool is so full of himself that instead of having the capacity to accept wisdom he dangerously prattles out his own ‘clever opinions,’ which are devoid of true wisdom. (Proverbs, Chapters 1–15, 459)

Here is the point, and this is a major theme in Proverbs: If you are the kind of person who loves to hear the sound of your own voice and who speaks more than you listen, then you’re probably a fool. You are probably worshiping the idol of self.

How many of you know people who, when you have a conversation with them, they look like they are not listening to a word you are saying at all but rather are just waiting for you to take a breath so they can speak? They want to tell you their thoughts on things, but they do not want to hear your thoughts at all. Maybe you are that kind of person. If you are the kind of person who loves to talk and cannot receive commands or advice from others, then you are a fool and it will end up hurting you. You will come to ruin. Why? Because if you cannot listen to someone else’s instructions, you will never learn from your own mistakes.

All of us think that we are right. Obviously, I think my views are right on everything! Otherwise I would change to a different view. If I thought I was wrong, why would I keep holding on to the wrong view? So I think that all of my views on everything are right, but I know in my heart that my views could not possibly all be right. I just can’t figure out which ones are right and which ones are wrong. But if you are the kind of person who loves to talk and never listen to others with the awareness that you may be wrong, then you will never grow as a person and you will continually make the same mistakes. You can’t learn where your views, decisions, and choices are off unless you are willing to receive commands and counsel from others. Wisdom is being able to receive advice humbly and follow it. This has everything to do with Jesus, who perfectly accepted the commands of his Father and knew when and how to speak rightly.

We see this theme throughout Proverbs. Proverbs 13:3 says, “The one who guards his mouth protects his life; the one who opens his lips invites his own ruin.” Proverbs repeatedly says that those who speak a lot also sin a lot and are destructive to themselves and the people around them. Since we are sinners, the more we talk, sooner or later something stupid will come out of our mouths. How many times have you said something and immediately wished you could take it back? But you can’t! Jesus produces the ability to guard your tongue.

Jesus Produces Wisdom in the Area of Your Relationships

Proverbs 10:1,12

Wisdom has to do with relationships. Whether you are the kind of person who loves your neighbor or makes fun of your neighbor reveals whether you are wise or a fool (11:12). Whether you are the kind of person who can keep secrets reveals whether you are wise or a fool (11:13). Are you the kind of person who is told something in confidence, then a few days later you confide in another friend, “Hey, I’m only telling you this and you can’t tell anyone else, but did you know that . . .”? If you do that, you are an idolatrous fool. Most likely the inability to keep secrets reveals that you worship yourself because you like to be the person who has and disseminates information. That has everything to do with your relationship with Jesus.

Wisdom has to do with all kinds of relationships. Whether or not you are generous to the poor (11:24), take care of your animals (12:10), listen to your parents (13:1), keep good company (13:20), or date the right people reveals whether or not you are wise and walking with Jesus. Jesus doesn’t just reconcile you to God; he reconciles you to others (Eph 2:14).

We see an example of this here at the start of Proverbs 10. Verse 1 states, “A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son, heartache to his mother.” Those are parallel lines that complement each other. Do not misread the text so that you think it means that the mom will not be happy if her son is wise, or that the dad will not be heartbroken if his son is a fool. No, it is a parallelism with the father in the first line and the mother in the second line. The basic idea is that if you are a wise child, you will make your parents happy, but if you are foolish, you will break your parents’ hearts. The whole principle that Solomon teaches is that your wisdom or foolishness has emotional consequences for the people around you, specifically your parents. You need to observe the response that your behavior elicits from your parents to know whether you are wise and in right relationship with Jesus or whether you are a fool who is walking away from Jesus.[23]Wisdom has everything to do with the emotional results you bring out of your parents. If you bring your parents shame because of foolish decisions, words, or actions, you have a problem with Jesus. If you choose friends who corrupt you, if you choose dating relationships that are harmful for you, or if you get involved with peers in drugs and alcohol and break your parents’ hearts, that reveals idolatry in your life. Plenty of parents feel this heartache because of decisions their children have made.

This reality has everything to do with your relationship with Jesus. I ( Jon) think that all of us would have to admit that we have made decisions that hurt our parents. I’m not exempt from that. The good news of the gospel is that this convicting reality points us to Jesus. Jesus is the one who perfectly fulfills the wisdom of Proverbs. Jesus was the one who was perfectly wise and perfectly honored his parents. That is why Luke 2:51 points out that Jesus submitted in everything to Mary and Joseph. That is why in John’s Gospel when Jesus hangs on the cross suffocating to death, he makes provisions for his mom to be taken care of after he dies ( John 19:26-27). Why did Jesus do that? Jesus did that because he perfectly honored his parents. The truth of the gospel is not only that Jesus kept the fifth commandment for us but also that Jesus died the death we deserved to die for shaming our parents. He offers us his perfect record of righteousness and wisdom through faith. He offers to wipe our slate clean of all the times we dishonored our parents. Through the Spirit, Jesus makes us the kind of children who bring joy to our parents.

Relationships are again addressed in Proverbs 10:12, “Hatred stirs up conflicts, but love covers all offenses.” Hatred, anger, and a violent temper are not good conflict-resolution techniques. That seems simple, but we all need to hear it. Again, the root of this is idolatry, most likely worship of self that prevents you from letting go of a perceived wrong against you. What is a good conflict-resolution technique? Love! Seeking the best in others, not just seeking the best in yourself. Giving the benefit of the doubt to others, not just giving the benefit of the doubt to yourself. Forgiving other people, not just overlooking your own sin while you fixate on others’ sins. If you are constantly angry, if you are the kind of person who loves a good fight, and if you are continually stirring up conflict, you are a fool. The way that you resolve conflict in wisdom is this: “A gentle answer turns away anger” (15:1). You resolve conflicts by loving others and letting go of the offenses (see Eph 4:32). Again we see this fulfilled in Jesus. Jesus—by his love on the cross—­covers our offenses against God and reconciles us to God. Not only does he resolve the conflict between us and God, but that vertical reconciliation should also lead to horizontal reconciliation where we love and forgive others around us. Being a blood-bought, wise Christian means that you see the way God dealt with you and your sin and your offense against him, and then you deal that way with others who wrong you: You love them! You forgive them!

Jesus Produces Wisdom That Leads to Rewards in Your Life and the Life to Come

Proverbs 10:24-32

Following Jesus leads to rewards in this life and in the one to come. Proverbs 10–31 really boils down to conduct and the consequences that come out of that conduct. Solomon is a good teacher. Solomon doesn’t just tell his son what to do, he tells him why he should do it. Here is what will happen. If you are wise, here is the good that can result. But if you are foolish in your life, here is the bad and the harm that could come out of it. He teaches his son using both the what and the why.

These themes come up repeatedly in Proverbs 10 as well. Verses 24-32 deal with the rewards and consequences of wisdom and foolishness. It is a matter of life and death. Verse 24 states, “What the wicked dreads will come to him, but what the righteous desire will be given to them.” What do you fear? What are your nightmares? Do you fear financial ruin? Marital ruin? Do you fear your children not turning out the way that you want them to? Do you fear not succeeding at your job? Do you fear not having a good reputation? Do you fear death and the judgment of hell? Solomon says that if you are a fool—outside of Christ—those are the things you will receive. What you fear is exactly what will happen to you. But if you are wise and righteous through Christ, which means your desires have now been transformed to be God’s desires for you, then you will get what you desire! Whether that desire is eternal life, a strong marriage, a godly family, or whatever God is molding you and shaping you to desire, those are the things you will receive. Those rewards may come now in this life, but they will certainly come in the life to come because verse 25 says the righteous will be established “forever.”

Throughout Proverbs 10 and following, these consequences are presented both as present and future. Proverbs 12:21 promises stability in your life and not chaos when you walk in wisdom, whereas 12:28 promises that the righteous will never die. The problem is, none of us are righteous; so this verse means hell for us. But in Christ we are counted righteous; and even though we might die, yet we will live forever. Faith in Jesus leads to life eternal beginning the moment you put your trust in him.


Often when I ( Jon) read Proverbs, it can be very discouraging because when I read these things and take stock of my life, I think about how often I’ve messed up. I think about how often I did not listen to my parents. I think about how often decisions that I made brought sadness to my parents instead of happiness. I think of how often I’ve said things to people that were harmful and hurtful. I think of how often I did not listen to some bit of advice that I needed to hear, that someone told me because they loved me. I think of how often I shared secrets that I should’ve kept. I think of how often I procrastinated on tasks that were assigned to me. I think of how often I didn’t forgive somebody who wronged me. In all of these things that Proverbs lays out, I see how I have messed up repeatedly.

But here is how we read these things in Proverbs rightly, and in a way that brings joy and not discouragement. It is summed up in the words of Graeme Goldsworthy on the book of Proverbs:

Jesus has fulfilled in our place the perfection God demands. He was the truly wise and fully sanctified human on our behalf. Thus, as we struggle to become wise, we know that our failures do not disqualify us from life because Christ himself is our only qualification. He, when all is said and done, is our wisdom, and to possess Christ is to be accounted wise by the only judge who matters. (Tree of Life, 98)

Reflect and Discuss

  1. What books of the Bible do you think are most difficult to understand?
  2. Why might Proverbs be more difficult to understand than we might think at first glance?
  3. How does foolishness in your daily life reveal your top priorities?
  4. What are some areas of your life that you previously thought were not really spiritual, but Proverbs shows God’s great concern for as well?
  5. In what way does the randomness of Proverbs 10–31 instruct us in how to impart wisdom to our children?
  6. What are some ways that we are distracted from work?
  7. How does gaining money a little at a time help us to better steward it than coming into a lot of money at once?
  8. In what ways does thinking you are wise actually reveal you might not be?
  9. If you are heartbroken over the heartache that you caused your parents by your foolish decisions, what does the Bible call you to do?
  10. What are your greatest fears?