Paul encouraged the Ephesians to “live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (4:2). But what does that mean day in and day out—in the employee break room, at the community pool, and around the dinner table? In the book of Proverbs, we discover what walking worthy looks like in almost every aspect of life from eating sweets to marrying the right person, from working a field to counseling a president.
The book of Proverbs is a collection of short, wise sayings meant to be instructive. They are generalized statements of what is usually true in life—guidelines for living a godly life. Underlying all the proverbs is the truth that right thinking produces right actions, virtuous character generates virtuous conduct.
The proverb writers convey profound truths by creating comparisons and contrasts related to everyday activities and objects as well as people and animals. The Hebrew word translated “proverb” is mashal, which means “the ingenious comparison of two things or opinions.”* When mashal refers to longer sections of prose, it may be translated parable or discourse (Numbers 24:3; Job 27:1).
According to 1 Kings 3:2, Solomon spoke over 3,000 proverbs. He wrote many, but not all, of the proverbs contained in this book. Our series will not cover every verse in Proverbs, but we will eventually cover one or more proverbs in each chapter. Some of the devotions in this series will be based on one proverb; others will be based on several proverbs that address the same topic.
J. I. Packer wrote, “Wisdom is the power to see and the inclination to choose the best and highest goal, together with the surest means of attaining it.”** We pray that our study in Proverbs will inspire you to live wisely.
Note: To access all the devotions on Proverbs, go to “Dig into a Book of the Bible” under the “Dig into Devotions” tab on the navigation bar. Then click on “The Book of Proverbs.”
*“Hebrew Lexicon :: H4912 (KJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 4 Sep, 2014. http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H4912&t=KJV
**Knowing God. InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove, IL, 1973, 1993, p.90